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I 

( 


BENJAMIN  MORGAN   PALMER 


/3,^. 


TW 


LIFK   AND    LI'.  iTTl-'. 


rr 


Benjamin  Wokvak  Pai,mu; 


(  V 


1  HOMAS  (  ARY    |()I]V^n\ 

tv  or^'IAfv  ana  Letfn-s  of  F-  //.  /    y^:'-  'k.  /'  /'./  ' 
**/    v;  Calvin  a  :d  (.'rnt'ici*!  J\c'''jt  JHfitirv,"  J  i:. 


•      « « 


** 
*- 
^ 


*> 


THE 


LIFE  AND  LETTERS 


OF 


BENJAMIN  Morgan  Palmer 


BY 


THOMAS  GARY  pHNSON 

Author  of ''^ Life  and  Letters  of  Rob t.  L,  Dabney^  D,D.;  " 
**fohn  Calvin  and  Genevan  Reformation^^''  Etc. 


Richmond,  Va. 

PRK8BVTKRIAK  C0MMITT««  OF  PUBUCATION 


I 


\ 


copyriohtbd  by 

Thb  Presbyterian  Committee  of  Pubwcation 

J.  E.  Magii^i,,  Secretary 

1906 


#     • 


Printed  bt 

Thb  Cubbrrland  Press 

NAaHYii<i,B,  Tern, 


«<  ft 

t 


>- 


'-  TO 

HIS  ONI«Y  LIVING  DAUGHTER  AND  HIS  TWO  GRANDDAUGHTKRS, 
"  SWBBT  SOLACES  OF  HIS  LATTER  DAYS  ;  " 

^  TO 

ALL  WHO,  HAVING   HAD  HIM  AS  PASTOR,  LOVED  AND  ADMIRED 

HIM  IN  THAT   RELATION; 

TO 

f  ALL  WHO  REVERENCE  IN  THE  CHRISTIAN,  THE  UNION  OF  THE 

MOST  CLEAR-CUT  CONVICTIONS    AS  TO  THE  TEACHING  OF 

THE  CHRISTIAN  SCRIPTURES  TOUCHING  THE  FAITH, 

THE  POLITY  AND   THE   WORSHIP   PROPER  TO 

THE    PEOPLE    OF    GOD,    WITH    FERVID 

LOVE   FOR    ALL   MEN,   EVEN   OF 

DIFFERING  FAITH; 

AND  TO 

ALL  WHO  TAKE  A  JUST   PRIDE   IN   THAT    WHICH    WAS  HIGHEST 
AND  'BEST    IN    THE    OLD    SOUTH,   HER    BEAUTIFUL  HOME- 
LIFE    THE    SIMPLE    BUT     ELEGANT    CULTURE    AND 
I  MANNERS  OP   HER   LEADING  CITIZENS,  THEIR 

INCORRUPTIBLE    CIVIL    INTEGRITY,  AND 
BURNING    PATRIOTISM, 

THIS  VOLUME 

J3  MOST  RE3PECTFUI,Ly  DEPICATED. 


I 
f 


i^ 


i 


l-34-3Lf 
/77¥7 


PREFACE 


In  the  summer  of  1903,  the  Rev.  John  W.  Caldwell,  Jr., 
paid  me  a  call,  during  which  he  said  that  there  was  a  plan  on 
foot  to  prepare  a  memorial  volume  of  his  grandfather,  the  late 
Rev.  Dr.  B.  M.  Palmer,  of  New  Orleans;  that  according  to 
this  plan  the  volume  would  contain  the  best  of  the  biographical 
papers  concerning  him  published  soon  after  Dr.  Palmer's 
death,  a  few  of  his  best  sermons  and  speeches,  and  a  historical 
sketch  of  his  services  to  the  Church.  He  said,  also,  that  in 
a  family  conference,  they  had  concurred  in  thinking  that  I  was 
the  man  to  prepare  the  account  of  the  ecclesiastical  services. 

I  was  naturally  pleased  at  being  thought  worthy  to- perform 
this  service  in  behalf  of  the  memory  of  such  a  distinguished 
and  noble  man,  but  I  felt  that  other  men  were  probably  much 
fitter  for  the  task;  and  that  it  would  be  difficult  to  bring  out 
his  ecclesiastical  services  fully  without  dealing  with  his  life 
and  character  as  a  man  and  a  Christian,  apart  from  which  he 
could  have  given  no  such  service  to  the  Church.  I  also  felt 
that  such  a  volume  as  had  been  contemplated  was  an  insuf- 
ficient memorial  of  one  so  worthy ;  that  a  proper  regard  for  his 
character,  and  work,  and  for  the  interests  of  Christianity, 
all  dictated  that  an  adequate  biography  should  be  prepared. 
I  frankly  stated  all  these  views.  I  also  said  that,  in  my  judg- 
ment, they  should  find  a  man  to  do  the  work  who  had  been 
bred  in  the  South  Carolina  belt  of  civilization.  I  ventured 
even  to  name  a  man  who  would  do  the  work  well.  Mr.  Cald- 
well agreed  that  a  biography  was  really  demanded  to  meet 
the  proprieties  of  the  case;  but  spoke  of  practical  difficulties 
in  the  way  of  securing  such  an  elaborate  work.  He  said  that 
I  was  believed  to  have  the  kinship  of  ecclesiastical  view  de- 
sired in  a  biographer.  After  considerable  conversation,  I 
declared  that  I  could  not  even  consider  the  matter  further 


vi  Preface. 

for  six  months ;  but  that  at  the  end  of  that  time  I  would,  if  he 
pleased,  see  whether  I  could  not  assist  him  in  having  the  biog- 
raphy prepared. 

Accordingly,  in  January,  or  February,  1904,  I  wrote  to  a 
common  friend  in  New  Orleans,  a  gentleman  who  had  known 
Dr.  Palmer  well,  and  admired  him  greatly ;  and  told  him  of  the 
conversation  betw^n  Mr.  Caldwell  and  myself;  gave  him  my 
notion  of  the  kind  of  work  which  should  be  prepared ;  repeated 
to  him  my  view  that  a  man  from  Dr.  Palmer's  own  section 
of  the  country  and  one  who  had  known  him  personally,  should 
be  discovered  to  reproduce  his  life.  I  said,  however,  that  if 
those  who  wished  to  see  his  life  reproduced  could  agree  on 
no  one  else  to  do  it,  I  would,  because  of  my  desire  to  secure  the 
perpetuation  of  the  Doctor's  influence,  undertake  the  biog- 
raphy, provided  his  friends  in  New  Orleans  would  assume  a 
certain  specified  financial  risk. 

Meanwhile,  from  other  sources  demands  came  that  I  should 
undertake  this  work.  The  following  letter,  written  only  a 
short  while  before  its  lamented  author's  death,  will  serve  as  an 
instance : 


Rev,  Thos.  C.  Johnson,  D,D.,  Union  Seminary,  Richmond,  Va, 
My  Dear  Doctor:  Dr.  Palmer's  life  ought  to  be  written, 
and,  in  my  judgment,  you  are  the  man  to  write  it.  Let  me 
say  in  advance,  that  this  letter  is  penned  on  my  own  initiative 
and  without  consulting  any  member  of  the  family. 

"There  has  been  much  talk  of  a  monument  to  Dr.  Palmer. 
In  my  opinion  the  best  is  a  Biography.  Mrs.  Caldwell  ob- 
served to  me  when  urging  the  matter  some  time  since,  that 
her  father  did  not  think  much  of  biographies,  as  they  were 
commonly  unread;  and  that  his  long  life  as  a  simple,  hard- 
working pastor  had  been  too  uneventful  to  furnish  interesting 
material.    The  last  was  a  huge  mistake. 

"Some  of  the  items  as  they  occur  to  me,  I  sketch: — product 
of  a  low-country  civilization,  a  distinct  variety ;  Levitical  tribe, 
ministerial  succession  from  Colonial  times;  Northern  and 
Southern  strains  of  blood  in  immediate  ancestry;  college  es- 
capade and  estrangement  from  father  and  recoil  from  rdi- 


Preface.  vii 

gion ;  spiritual  conflict  at  conversion ;  life  as  a  young  pastor, 
choice  of  extempore  preaching;  long  pastorate  at  a  strategic 
point;  life  as  professor,  author;  contributions  to  S.  W.  P., 
notably  'Qiristian  Paradoxes/  'Leaves  from  a  Pastor's  Port- 
folio;* review  articles  on  every  burning  question,  papers 
against  Organic  Union ;  agency  in  epochs,  national  and  eccle- 
siastical ;  sermon  at  opening  of  the  war ;  first  General  Assem- 
bly ;  anti-lottery  speech ;  tragic  end ;  obsequies,  tributes,  etc. 

"Although  in  sympathy  with  Dr.  Dabney  on  State  and  Church 
questions,  he  was,  unlike  him,  an  original  secessionist,  and, 
though  strong  in  convictions  and  virile  in  expression,  he  was 
not  so  extreme  in  either;  and  his  life  furnishes  material  for 
the  sketching  of  a  portrait  in  which  the  skilful  limner  of  Dab- 
ney need  not  repeat  himself. 

"Fraternally  yours, 

"R.  Q.  Mallard." 

Believing  that  the  conditions  stated  in  my  letter  to  New  Or- 
leans would  prove  the  occasion  of  the  choice  of  some  other 
man  as  Dr.  Palmer's  biographer,  I  was  surprised  by  the  early 
reception  of  letters  saying  that  the  conditions  had  all  been 
complied  with  and  that  I  was  expected  to  do  the  work. 

Having  now  no  choice  in  the  matter,  I  began  at  the  earliest 
practical  moment  the  study  of  the  civilization  of  the  far  South 
and  the  collection  of  material  bearing  on  Dr.  Palmer's  life. 
Much  valuable  matter  was  at  once  gathered  through  correspon- 
dence and  by  advertising  for  it.  In  June  and  July,  1904,  I 
visited  New  Orleans,  La.,  Charleston,  McPhersonville,  Wal- 
terboro,  and  Columbia,  S.  C,  to  gather  material  and  converse 
with  those  who  had  known  Dr.  Palmer  best.  At  every  point, 
my  mission  secured  me  the  greatest  consideration  and  enthusi- 
astic aid.  In  that  most  courteous  of  cities,  New  Orleans, 
there  appeared  so  general  a  desire  to  help  on  the  part  of  all 
who  were  informed  of  my  business  that  space  cannot  be  taken 
here  to  recount  their  names.  Special  mention  must  be  made, 
however,  of  the  proprietors  of  the  great  daily  papers  of  the  city, 
who  kindly  put  their  files  at  my  command ;  of  the  guardians  of 
the  City  Archives,  who  therein  gave  me  access  to  mines  of  great 


viii  Preface. 

value ;  of  Rabbi  Leucht,  who  granted  some  specially  informing 
interviews;  and,  particularly,  of  Prof.  John  W.  Caldwell  and 
His  family,  who  not  only  turned  me  loose  in  Dr.  Palmer's 
study,  opening  his  desks  and  revealing  sometimes  uncon- 
sciously, much  as  to  his  character,  in  the  intimacies  of  social 
intercourse,  but  gave  themselves  to  recalling,  clarifying  and 
verifying  facts  in  connection  with  his  life,  affording  me  every 
possible  assistance. 

At  Charleston,  S.  C,  Mr.  Alfred  Lanneau  and  his  sisters. 
Miss  Marv  Caldwell  and  Mr.  Asher  D.  Cohen  contributed 
valuable  materials.  At  McPhersonville,  the  family  of  the  Hon. 
Sanders  Glover,  and  their  cousin,  Mrs.  Kerr;  at  Walterboro, 
the  Hon.  C.  G.  Henderson  and  others ;  at  Columbia,  Miss  Helen 
McMaster,  Mrs.  Clarkson,  the  Hon.  Daniel  Joseph  Pope,  Pro- 
fessor of  Law  in  the  University  of  South  Carolina,  who  in 
his  youth  was  a  roommate  of  Dr.  Palmer  at  the  University  of 
Georgia;  and  others. 

Many  ladies  and  gentlemen  have  loaned  us  valuable  pack- 
ages of  letters;  but,  as  their  names  for  the  most  part  occur 
in  the  body  of  the  work,  it  has  been  deemed  unnecessary  to 
repeat  them  here. 

Express  mention  must  be  made  of  aid  rendered  by  Prof. 
Charles  Woodward  Hutson,  of  Texas. 

The  materials  gathered,  I  went  earnestly  to  work  in  the  en- 
deavor to  master  them  and  to  reproduce  the  life  of  my  noble 
subject  in  his  environment.  It  was  not  an  easy  task.  I  am 
conscious  of  many  imperfections  in  its  execution;  but  I  can 
claim  the  merit  of  having  at  least  tried  to  present  Dr.  Palmer 
and  his  history  in  proj>ortions  corresponding  to  the  objective 
facts. 

Our  friend,  the  Rev.  D.  K.  Walthell,  Ph.D.,  has  prepared 
the  index  to  the  work.  T.  C.  J. 

Union  Theological  Seminary  of  Virginia, 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  I. 
The  Ancestors i 

CHAPTER  n. 
Features  of  the  Civilization  Amidst  Which  He  Developed      .    i8 

CHAPTER  HI. 
Boyhood  and  Early  Youth 36 

CHAPTER  IV. 
Days  of  His  College  Training -    .      .    45 

CHAPTER  V. 
Student  for  the  Ministry  in  Columbia  Seminary     ....    62 

CHAPTER  VI. 
Pastor  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  at  Savannah      .      .    73 

CHAPTER  VII. 
The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C 87 

CHAPTER  VIII. 
The  Pastor  at  Columbia^  S.  C. — Continued 126 

CHAPTER  IX. 
Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary 150 

CHAPTER  X. 
The  Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans 170 

CHAPTER  XI. 
The  Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans — Continued     ...  196 

CHAPTER  XII. 
His  Course  During  the  War 236 


X  Contents. 

CHAPTER  XIII. 
Rebuilding  the  Broken  Walls 291 

CHAPTER  XIV. 
Rebuilding  the  Broken  Walls — Continued 346 

CHAPTER  XV. 
At  the  Summit  of  His  Powers  and 'Productivity      ....  421 

CHAPTER  XVI. 
At  the  Summit  of  His  Powers  and  Productivity — Continued      .  482 

CHAPTER  XVII. 
The  Final  Stadium  of  Servicer  Noble  But  Broken      ....  531 

CHAPTER  XVIII. 
The  Final  Stadium  of  Service;  Noble  But  Broken — Continued  571 

CHAPTER  XIX. 
The  Final  Stadium  of  Service;  Noble  But  Broken — Continued  606 

CHAPTER  XX. 
The  Street  Car  Accident,  Death,  Burial  and  Eulogies      .      .  620 

CHAPTER  XXI. 
Summary  View  of  the  Man  and  His  Services 651 


LIFE  AND  LETTERS 

OF 

Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer 


CHAPTER  I. 

THE  ANCESTORS. 
(1621-1818.) 

William  Palmer  L— William  Palmer  II.— Wiu-iam  Palmer  III. 
AND  Thomas  Palmer  I. — Rev.  Thomas  Palmer. — Rev.  Samuel 
Palmer.— Job  Palmer. — Rev.  Edward  Palmer.— Sarah  Bunce 
Palmer. 

IT  is  vain  to  pour  contempt  upon  the  pride  which  traces  one's 
history  back  to  a  noble  heritage."    Virtue  receives  a  g^ace 
when  it  descends  from  sire  to  son: 

"And  is  successively,  from  blood  to  blood, 
The  right  of  birth." 

The  history  of  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer  "was  rooted  in  a 
strong,  pure  and  gentle"  lineage.  The  virtues  which  shone  so 
luminously  in  him,  had  appeared  before  in  his  ancestral  lines. 
The  truthfulness  of  these  assertions  may  be  tested  by  a  glance 
at  the  following  sketches  of  his  ancestors : 

William  Palmer  L,  ( 1638). 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  162 1,  when  the  Plymouth  Colony 
was  less  than  one  year  old,  there  came  into  the  new  settlement 
a  second  ship,  laden  with  immigrants  from  the  mother  country 
of  England.  Amongst  these  was  one  William  Palmer,  whom, 
for  convenience,  we  have  called  William  Palmer  I.  We  know 
little  of  him  with  certainty.  Back  in  England,  his  home  had 
been  in  Nottinghamshire.  It  would  be  interesting  to  know  that 
he  was  related  to  Herbert  Palmer,  of  the  county  of  Kent,  who 
was  to  sit  as  a  member  of  the  Westminster  Assembly  and  to 
be  known  as  the  best  catechist  in  all  England.     For  in  Her- 


2  Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

bert  Palmer  appeared  certain  prominent  characteristics  that 
have  appeared,  also,  in  some  of  the  greater  offspring  of  Wil- 
liam Palmer  L,  notably  the  faculty  of  uniting  breadth  of  af- 
fection with  the  tenacious  maintenance  of  personal  convictions. 
No  such  relationship  is  known,  however. 

Tradition  says  that  this  William  Palmer  L,  who  came  over 
on  the  ship  Fortune,  bore  the  title  of  lieutenant.  Though 
history  tells  us  little  of  his  life  in  the  colony,  it  is  no  difficult 
task  to  imagine  how  he  was  occupied  for  the  first  years  after 
his  coming.  "Fishing,  hunting,  and  the  collection  of  fuel  and 
timber  were  the  chief  businesses  of  the  colonists.  These  pur- 
suits, which  gave  place  to  one  another  in  turn,  were  interrupted 
by  occasional  traffic  with  the  Indians."  In  his  first  midwinter 
the  colonists  "built  a  fort  with  good  timber,  both  strong  and 
comely,  which  was  of  good  defence,  made  with  a  flat  roof  and 
battlements,  on  which  their  ordnance  were  mounted.  Jt  served 
them  also  for  a  meetinghouse,  and  was  fitted  accordingly  for 
that  use.  It  was  a  great  work  for  them  in  their  weakness  and 
time  of  want.  But  the  danger  of  the  time  required  it,  and  also 
the  hearing  of  the  great  massacre  in  Virginia  made  all  hands 
willing  to  dispatch  the  same."^  The  settlers  barricaded  their 
dwellings.  They  enclosed  the  whole  settlement,  with  the  fort 
and  space  for  a  garden  for  each  family,  with  a  paling.  They 
completed  a  military  organization.  They  kept  a  watch  and 
ward  against  the  Indians.  They  struggled  with  weakness  and 
famine.  They  prayed  and  worshipped,  some  of  them  in  sincer- 
ity and  truth,  others  in  hypocrisy ;  for  not  all  of  the  passengers 
on  the  Mayflower,  and  not  all  on  the  Fortune,  were  honest 
and  worthy.     The  community  was  a  mixed  one. 

That  William  Palmer  I.  belonged  to  the  body  of  good  men 
in  the  colony,  and  that  he  had  in  him  worthy  stock,  there 
can  be  no  doubt.  Can  an  evil  tree  bring  forth  good  fruit? 
His  descendants  in  every  generation  have  been  men  of  worth, 
some  of  them  men  of  mark.  His  line  has  given  to  the  church 
more  than  thirteen  ministers,  viz.:  Thomas  Palmer,  Samuel 
Palmer,  Dr.  B.  M.  Palmer,  Sr.  (uncle  to  Dr.  B.  M.  Palmer  of 
New  Orleans),  Edward  Palmer,  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer, 
Edward  P.  Palmer,  Edward  Palmer  Hutson,  I.  S.  K.  Axson, 
P.  E.  Axson,  B.  E.  Lanneau,  Wallace  T.   Palmer,  Edward 

*  Bradford,  History  of  Plymouth  Plantation,  p.  126,  quoted  in  Pal- 
frey's History  of  New  England,  I.,  p.  196-197. 


The  Ancestors.  3 

Palmer  Pillans,  and  John  W,  Caldwell,  and  others.  His  line 
includes  Mrs.  S.  P.  B.  D.  Shindler,  the  poetess,  who  wrote, 
"I'm  a  Pilgrim,  and  I'm  a  Stranger,"  "Passing  under  the 
Rod,"  and  several  prose  works,  some  of  which  had  large  sale. 

He  had  married  some  years  before  leaving  England.  His 
wife  Frances  followed  him  to  the  New  World  in  August,  1623. 
At  that  time,  the  ship  Ann  and  the  little  James  arrived, 
having  aboard  "some  who  were  the  wives  and  children  of 
such  as  were  already  here."  Amongst  these  were  Frances 
Palmer  and  her  son  William  Palmer  II.,  having  come  over  in 
the  Ann. 

William  Palmer  I.  and  his  wife  Frances  removed  in  the  year 
1632,  taking  their  family  with  them,  to  Duxbury,  a  town  situ- 
ated on  the  other  side  of  the  harbor,  at  a  distance  of  nine  miles 
from  Plymouth.  A  sense  of  security  had  spread,  and  property 
had  increased,  especially  cattle.  The  settlers  at  Plymouth, 
who  for  the  first  years  had  lived  compactly,  had  begun  about 
this  time  to  "disperse  for  the  convenience  of  more  pasturage 
and  other  accommodations."  Later,  the  Palmers  removed 
further  up  the  coast  toward  Boston,  to  a  place  called  Scituate. 
There  the  will  of  William  I.  was  probated  March  5,  1638. 

William   Palmer  II. 

William  Palmer  II.  was  born,  as  we  have  seen,  in  England. 
He  was  married  at  Scituate,  March  27,  1633,  to  Elizabeth 
Hodgkins.  He  removed  to  Yarmouth.  He  was  one  of  the 
purchasers  of  Dartmouth.  Tradition  says  that  he  removed 
to  Newton,  Long  Island,  in  1656,  had  born  of  him  a  son,  in 
1665,  who  was  to  become  the  Rev.  Thomas  Palmer;  and  that 
he  died  about  the  time  of  this  son*s  birth ;  but  there  appears  to 
be  some  solid  evidence  that  he  died  as  early  as  1637. 

William  Palmer  III.  and  Thomas  Palmer  I. 

William  Palmer  III.  was  born  January  27,  1634,  and  his 
brother,  Thomas  Palmer  L,  in  1635  or  '6.  This  William 
Palmer  became  heir  of  "Plymouth  Estate,"  and 'settled  at  Dart- 
mouth in  1660.  He  died  in  1679.  His  wife  bore  the  name 
"Susanna."  His  children  were  William  IV.,  born  1663,  John, 
bom  on  the  i8th  of  May,  1665,  and  "other  children"  not 
named.  It  has  been  conjectured,  and  with  considerable  prob- 
ability, that  one  of  these  "other  children"  was  Thomas  Palmer, 


4  Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

whose  acquaintance  we  shall  make  as  the  Rev.  Thomas  Palmer ; 
and  that  he  was  a  twin  brother  of  John,  since  the  Rev.  Thomas' 
birth  year  is  certainly  known,  from  his  tombstone,  to  have 
been  1665.  On  the  other  hand  it  has  been  conjectured  that, 
as  William  Palmer  IL  had  a  son  born  to  him  in  1635  or  '6, 
who  bore  the  name  of  Thomas  Palmer,  and  as  he  is  known  to 
have  inherited  his  father's  lands  at  Scituate,  he  became  the 
father  of  the  Thomas  Palmer  born  in  1665. 

There  are  thus  three  views  taken  as  to  the  connection  be- 
tween William  Palmer  IL  and  Rev.  Thomas  Palmer;  and, 
notwithstanding  the  fact  that  several  published  "records"  make 
Rev.  Thomas  Palmer  to  have  been  the  son  of  William  Palmer 
IL,  it  is  not  deemed  safe  to  assert  that  such  was  the  connec- 
tion. Mr.  Alfred  W.  Lanneau,  of  Charleston,  S.  C,  has  given 
to  this  question  much  intelligent  study  and  concludes,  ''that 
the  Rev.  Thomas  Palmer  was  the  son  of  William  III.  and  not 
of  William  IL ;  and  that  he  was  a  brother  of  John  and  of  Wil- 
liam IV."  He  writes,  "My  record  of  his  life  shows  that  he 
had  a  brother  William  when  he  moved  to  Middleboro." 

Thomas  Palmer  II.  (1665-1743). 

According  to  the  testimony  of  his  tombstone,  this  man  was 
born  in  1665.  If  not  the  son  of  William  Palmer  IL,  and  of 
his  wife,  Elizabeth  Hodgkins,  he  was  the  grandson,  and  proba- 
bly through  William  Palmer  III.,  as  his  father.  He  became  a 
minister  and  settled  at  Middleboro,  Mass.,  about  1696.  He 
seems  to  have  been  a  rash  and  headstrong  man,  and  given  to 
occasional  intemperance.  The  discovery  of  these  weaknesses 
provoked  opposition  to  his  settlement.  He  was  ordained  only 
after  several  years  of  preaching,  probably  May  2,  1702,  his 
ordination  being  accomplished  apparently  through  taking  the 
opposition  by  surprise.  The  opposition  continued.  Council 
after  council  was  held.  Finally,  in  accord  with  the  advice  of 
the  council  of  twelve  churches,  and  also  of  that  of  "the  anni- 
versary convention  of  ministers  in  Boston,  he  was,  by  the 
church  in  Middleboro,  June  30,  1708,  deposed  from  the  min- 
istry, and  excluded  from  their  communion  at  the  sacramental 
table."  A  section  of  the  church  stood  by  him,  and  he  preached 
to  his  party  in  a  private  house  for  some  time  after  his  deposi- 
tion. He  lived  out  his  days  in  the  place ;  and,  as  he  had  con- 
siderable knowledge  of  medicine  and  skill  in  the  healing  art, 


1 

I 


The  Ancestors.  S 

he  was  employed  for  many  years  as  a  practicing  physician 
among  the  people.  Near  the  close  of  his  life  he  was  restored 
to  the  communion  of  the  church.    He  died  July  17,  1743. 

His  excellent  wife,  Elizabeth  Sturvenant,  had  borne  him 
eight  children,  the  sixth  of  whom  was  to  reflect  much  honor 
on  his  parents. 

Samuel   Palmer    (1707-1775). 

Among  the  children  of  Rev.  Thomas  and  Elizabeth  Sturve- 
nant Palmer,  was  Samuel  Palmer,  their  sixth  child.  He  was 
born  August  8,  1707,  at  Middleboro,  Mass.  He  was  sent  to 
Harvard  College  for  an  education. 

The  Massachusetts  colony  had  understood  what  was  neces- 
sary in  order  to  have  the  foundations  of  a  permanent  common- 
wealth. The  people  of  that  colony  had  hardly  provided  for  the 
primal  wants  of  life — food,  clothing,  houses,  churches — ^before 
they  began,  through  their  legislative  body,  to  tax  themselves 
for  the  rearing  of  a  college  and  its  maintenance, — "the  first 
body,"  says  Mr.  Edward  Everett,  "in  which  the  people,  by 
their  representatives,  ever  gave  their  own  money  to  found  a 
place  of  education."  They  were  the  objects  of  suspicion  on 
the  part  of  the  unfriendly  home  government.  They  were  sur- 
rounded by  hostile  nations.  But  beyond  their  impending 
troubles,  they  looked  to  the  needs  of  the  future,  and  taxed 
themselves  heavily  to  provide  for  those  needs.  "The  generous 
project  engaged  the  sympathy  of  John  Harvard,  a  graduate 
of  Emmanuel  College,  Cambridge,  who,  dying  childless  within 
a  year  after  his  arrival  in  Charlestown,  bequeathed  (1638)  his 
library  and  the  one  half  of  his  estate,  it  being  in  all  about 
seven  hundred  pounds,  for  the  erecting  of  the  college."  *  For 
this  beneficent  act,  the  Court  gratefully  ordered  the  college 
to  be  called  by  the  name  of  Harvard. 

From  this  college  Samuel  Palmer  was  graduated  in  1727. 
He  prepared  himself  for  the  ministry,  and  perhaps,  also,  for 
the  practice  of  medicine;  and  was  settled  at  Falmouth,  M^ss., 
in  1730. 

At  a  town  meeting  held  June  30,  1730,  it  was  agreed  and 
voted  that  Mr.  Samuel  Palmer  shall  be  the  town's  minister. 
"At  the  same  meeting,"  says  the  ancient  record,  "the  town 
made  choice  of  nine  men  to  consider  of  a  suitable  sum  of 

*  Palfrey,  History  of  New  England,  Vol.  I.,  p.  549. 


6  Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

money  for  his  encouragement,  which  gentlemen  have  agreed  to 
give  Mr.  Palmer  £200,  settlement,  to  be  paid  in  four  years  at 
£50  per  year,  in  bills  of  credit,  with  £90  salary  for  the  four 
years,  and  afterwards  £100  per  year  so  long  as  he  shall  remain 
the  town's  minister ;  and  if  the  money  should  still  grow  worse, 
we  will  raise  in  proportion,  and  if  it  should  grow  better  then 
to  raise  in  proportion." 

The  town  and  the  church  made  subsequent  overtures  to 
which  he  responded,  September  i,  1731,  as  follows: 

"To  the  church  and  other  Christian  inhabitants  of  the  town  of 
Falmouth,  Brethren  i—Since  you  have  been  pleased  after  my  contin- 
uance for  some  time  with  you,  to  elect  and  make  application  to  me  to 
be  your  pastor  and  minister,  presenting  me  with  the  act  of  the 
church,  bearing  date  February  4,  1731,  wherein  is  signified  their  choice  of 
me,  and  desire  of  my  continuance  here  to  take  the  pastoral  care  of 
them,  etc.,  and  also  the  concurring  act  and  vote  of  the  town  bearing 
date  of  March  2,  1730,  wherein  is  expressed  that  the  inhabitants  of 
the  town  have  legally  chosen  me  to  be  their  minister,  etc,  I  do  grate- 
fully acknowledge  the  respect  for,  and  affection  toward  me,  which 
ye  have  so  unanimously  expressed  and  showed.  And  I  have  after  hum- 
ble and  earnest  supplication  to  the  all-wise  God  to  direct  and  guide 
me  in  the  consideration  of  so  weighty  and  important  an  affair  and  to 
influence  my  determination  thereon — set  myself  seriously  to  con- 
sider of  your  invitation  to  me  with  the  observable  circumstances 
attending  the  same,  asking  advice  thereon;  and  since  there  was  such  a 
unanimity  as  ye  have  signified  to  have  been  in  your  proceedings  and  a 
continuous  affection  toward  me  hath  since  been  expressed,  I  cannot  but 
conceive  the  voice  of  God  to  be  therein, — that  he  united  your  heart 
and  voice  thus  to  apply  yourselves  to  me,  and,  therefore,  notwith- 
standing the  discouragements  otherwise  arising  I  dare  not  gainsay, 
but  must  be  willing  to  comply  with  your  desire  to  take  upon  me  this 
solemn  charge  and  great  work  among  you,  as  hearkening  to,  and 
obeying  the  voice  of  the  great  shepherd  of  the  sheep,  depending  on  him 
for  assistance  and  strength  to  perform  the  same.  And  whereas  the 
Lord  hath  ordained  that  they  who  preach  the  Gospel  shall  live  of  the 
Gospel,  as  they  who  waited  at  the  altar  were  partakers  with  the 
altar,  I  do  and  shall  expect  that  ye  exercise  toward  me  that  charity, 
justice  and  liberality,  which  the  Gospel  of  our  Lord  requires;  to 
afford  me  a  comfortable  and  honorable  support  and  maintenance  as 
God  shall  gfive  you  ability,  and  of  what  you  are  pleased  of  your 
bounty  to  bestow  upon  me  to  promote  my  settling  comfortably  among 
you,  I  shall  thankfully  accept.  And  now  you  abiding  still  by  your 
choice  of  me  to  take  charge  of,  and  watch  over  you  according  to  the 
rules  of  the  Gospel,  I  shall  account  myself  bound  and  devoted  to  labor 


The  Ancestors.  7 

for  the  good  of  your  souls,  desiring  and  expecting  that  your  prayers 
be  joined  with  mine,  that  I  may  not  be  given  to  you  in  anger  but  in 
love;  as  a  blessing  of  our  gracious  and  ascended  Savior,  and  by  him 
be  made  faithful  and  successful  in  this  great  work  whereto  I  am 
called.*  Samuel    Palmer." 

He  was  a  methodical  and  regular  worker,  as  is  shown  by 
the  clear  record  of  the  history  of  the  church  of  Falmouth  which 
he  kept  from  the  day  of  his  ordination.  He  was  more, — ^a 
faithful  pastor,  a  laborious  minister,  a  man  of  prayer,  whose 
praise  was  in  all  the  churches.  "His  ministry  was  long  con- 
tinued and  eminently  successful." 

As  a  minister  must  often  do,  in  primitive  communities,  Mr. 
Samuel  Palmer  engaged  in  secondary  forms  of  activity.  He 
cared  not  only  for  the  souls  but  for  the  bodies  of  men.  He 
was  for  many  years  a  practitioner  of  medicine.  His  library  is 
said  to  have  contained  "some  of  the  best  medical  works  of  his 
day,"  and  he  is  said,  like  his  father,  to  have  had  a  "respect- 
able knowledge  of  the  healing  art."  It  is  not  certain  that  he 
had  received  a  diploma  as  a  medical  student.  There  is  a  prob- 
ability that,  doctors  being  scarce,  he  supplied  himself  with 
medical  knowledge  and  practiced  for  the  benefit  of  his  parish- 
oners  very  much  as  missionaries  do  at  the  present  day.  His 
useful  life  seems  to  have  been  sacrificed  to  his  labors  in  this 
direction.  In  making  a  visit  to  a  patient  in  a  remote  part  of 
town,  he  exposed  himself  to  severe  weather,  brought  on  a  cold 
which  was  attended  by  fever  and  resulted'  in  his  death. 

Mr.  Palmer  also  indulged  in  farming.  He  owned  a  slave. 
This  slave,  who  bore  the  name  of  Titus,  was  as  well-known  in 
his  sphere  as  his  master  was  in  his.  Between  this  Titus,  or 
"Tite,"  as  he  was  familiarly  called,  and  his  master  there  was 
a  strong  attachment;  and  the  master  treated  the  slave  much 
as  a  companion,  just  as  masters  so  often  treated  their  more 
intelligent  and  characterful  slaves  farther  south,  down  to  year 
1865.  Many  anecdotes  of  the  relations  between  Titus  and  his 
master  were  long  told  in  Falmouth.  They  carried  on  their 
farming  operations  together,  Titus  being  foreman  in  these 
operations  and  the  minister  a  rather  indifferent  aid.  The  par- 
son was  exceedingly  fond  of  his  pipe.    Tite  insisted  that  the 

*For  these  extracts  touching  Rev.  Samuel  Palmer's  settlement  at 
Falmouth,  see  Jenkins*  Early  History  of  the  Town  of  Falmouth,  pp. 
68,  72,  73' 


8  Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

pipe  made  the  master  absent-minded  and  consequently  ineffi- 
cient They  seem  to  have  had  their  own  way  of  doing  things. 
For  example,  in  plowing  Titus  was  always  at  the  helm,  and 
gave  the  word  of  command  to  the  minister  who  held  the  lines 
and  drove  the  "team."  The  minister,  whether  under  the  in- 
fluence of  his  pipe,  as  Titus  supposed,  or  under  some  other 
spell,  would  suffer  his  horses  to  deviate  from  a  straight  line, 
and  leave  a  most  irregular  furrow.  Titus  would  lose  patience 
and  shrilly  exclaim,  "Why,  Marster,  it  seems  you  might  do  a 
little  better."  As  Titus'  reproofs  were  .very  frequent,  the 
neighbors  enjoyed  much  laughing  gossip  about  his  "swearing 
at  the  minister." 

The  Rev.  Samuel  Palmer  had  married  Miss  Mercy  Parker, 
June  I,  1736.  By  her  he  had  three  sons,  the  oldest,  Thomas, 
the  second,  Joseph,  and  the  third.  Job,  who  removed  to 
Charleston,  S.  C,  and  of  whom  we  shall  see  more.  Mr. 
Samuel  Palmer's  first  wife  dying,  he  married  Miss  Sarah 
Allen,  in  1 75 1.    By  the  two  marriages  he  had  eleven  children. 

Nothing  seems  to  have  occurred  to  destroy  the  peace  and 
harmony  of  the  church  during  Mr.  Palmer's  ministry,  which 
was  closed  by  his  death.  He  had  been  the  faithful  preacher 
and  pastor  for  forty-five  years  in  Falmouth. 

The  death  of  this  excellent  man  was  a  heavy  affliction  to 
his  church  and  town.  He  died  April  13,  1775.  Two  days  later 
he  was  buried,  after  which  a  day  of  fasting  and  prayer  was 
appointed  on  account  of  the  affliction  by  which  the  people 
had  been  bereft  of  their  pastor.  The  town  in  further  appre- 
ciation of  Mr.  Palmer's  services  allowed  to  his  widow  and  fam- 
ily the  use  of  certain  public  lands.*  The  following  epitaph 
may  be  read  on  his  tombstone  in  the  old  cemetery  at  Falmouth, 
Mass.:  "Here  lies  interred  the  Body  of  the  Rev.  Samuel 
Palmer,  who  fell  asleep  April  ye  13th,  1775,  in  the  68th  year 
of  his  age  and  45th  of  his  ministry.  His  virtues  would  a  mon- 
ument supply.  But  underneath  these  clods  his  ashes  lie." 

Job   Palmer   (1747-1845). 

Mr.  Job  Palmer  was  for  years  the  patriarch  6i  the  city 
of   Charleston,    S.    C.     He   was   a    "man    that   was    perfect 

*We  are  indebted  for  this  account  of  Mr.  Samuel  Palmer,  also,  to 
C.  W.  Jenkins'  History  of  Falmouth,  in  the  form  of  three  lectures 
delivered  in  1843. 


The  Ancestors.  9 

and  upright,  one  that  feared  God  and  eschewed  evil."  When 
ninety-three  years  of  age  he  prepared  a  paper  for  his  descen- 
dants, to  which  he  made  subsequent  additions.  In  this  docu- 
ment he  gives  the  following  clear  account  of  his  life: 

"I  was  born  in  Falmouth  in  the  G)unty  of  Barnstable  in  Massa- 
chusetts, August  26  (15th  new  style),  1747.  My  father,  Samuel 
Palmer,  was  pastor  of  the  G>ngregational  Church  in  that  place.  Ac- 
cording to  my  views  of  religion  now,  I  believe  that  real,  vital  religion 
was  very  low  in  Falmouth  at  the  time  when  I  left  it,  particularly  among 
young  people.  [The  winters  were  given  up  "to  frolic,  dancing  and 
card  playing."]  Falmouth  was  my  stated  home  until  the  twenty-third 
year  of  my  age.  In  March,  1770,  I  left  home  and  went  to  the  city 
of  New  York.  I  continued  there  a  short  time,  then  went  up  North 
River  to  New  Windsor,  then  back  in  the  country  about  twelve  miles 
to  a  place  called  Wallkill.  I  remained  in  that  place  and  in  its  vicinity, 
through  the  summer  and  winter,  and  formed  acquaintance  with  some 
pious  people,  particularly  with  a  Mr.  Blair,  a  pious  Presbyterian  min- 
ister whose  preaching  I  generally  attended.  There  I  believe  I  re- 
ceived the  first  real  religious  impressions,  or  convictions  of  sin,  that 
I  ever  experienced,  excepting  under  one  sermon  I  heard  from  Dr. 
Rodgers  before  I  left  New  York.  Those  impressions  were  repeated 
from  time  to  time  under  the  preaching  of  Mr.  Blair,  and  some  other 
ministers.  And  I  have  reasons  to  believe  that  that  preaching  and 
some  other  religious  exercises  have  been  the  means  by  which  the 
blessed  Spirit  of  God,  at  first,  aroused  my  conscience  to  a  sense  of 
my  danger,  and,  I  would  humbly  hope,  has  led  me  to  embrace  the 
Redeemer,  as  my  only  hope  of  salvation,  through  his  atonement  and 
righteousness,  and  his  intercession  for  the  pardon  of  my  many  sins 
and  follies. 

"As  I  had  no  encouragement  in  my  business  to  remain  there,  I  re- 
turned to  New  York  in  the  spring.  Mr.  Blair  gave  me  a  letter  to  Dr. 
Rodgers  and  his  colleague,  Mr.  Trent.  There  my  religious  impres- 
sions were  recommenced  under  preaching,  and  repeated  frequently, 
and  deepened. 

"On  the  first  of  December,  1771,  I  was  admitted  to  communion 
in  the  Presbyterian  Church.  By  the  advice  of  some  friends,  I  con- 
cluded to  go  to  Charleston,  S.  C,  with  Rev.  Mr.  Tennent,  who  had 
accepted  a  call  to  the  Congregational  Church  there.  [This  was  Wil- 
liam Tennent,  son  of  William  Tennent,  Jr.,  of  Freehold,  N.  J.  He 
soon  wielded  a  commanding  influence  in  Charleston  in  the  pulpit  and 
out  of  it-  He  was  an  active  and  flaming  patriot.  He  "ably  and 
effectively  supported  the  Dissenting  Petition,  by  a  speech  delivered 
in  the  House  of  Assembly,  Charleston,  January  11,  1777."]  Dr.  Rodgers 
and  Mr.  Trent  gave  me  five  letters  to  five  persons,  members  of  that 


lo         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

church  (the  Circular  Church  to  which  Mr.  Tennent  had  been  called)- 
These  letters  introduced  me  t6  the  acquaintance  of  those  persons,  and 
I  doubt  not  to  the  friendship  of  some  of  them.  I  was  admitted  to 
the  first  communion  of  that  church  after  my  arrival  there.  I  ar- 
rived in  Charleston  in  March,  1772.  I  pretty  soon  became  acquainted 
with  a  number  of  the  members  of  the  church.  In  July,  1773,  I  was 
appointed  clerk  and  sexton  of  the  church  and  continued  in  the  office 
until  January,  1813  (thirty-nine  years),  when  I  resigned,  and  my  son, 
Edward,  was  elected  to  supply  my  place. 

"On  the  23rd  of  October,  1774,  I  united  in  marriage  with  Miss 
Sarah  Morgan,  of  Bermuda,  your  dear  mother — grandmother,  to  some 
of  you.  She  was  ever  dear  to  me,  although  an  infirm  and  weakly 
woman,  much  troubled  with  the  asthmatic  complaint  which,  I  sup- 
pose, was  finally  the  cause  of  her  death  on  February  21,  1797."  fOf 
this  marriage,  he  says  elsewhere:  "We  lived  in  harmony,  and,  I  be- 
lieve, there  were  seldom  any  unkind  words  passed  between  us.  We 
agreed  in  disposition.  In  respect  to  appearances  in  the  world,  neither 
of  us  was  ambitious  to  make  an  appearance  beyond  what  our  cir- 
cumstances would  warrant.  I  mention  these  minute  circumstances 
because  I  have  no  doubt  that  had  we  possessed  the  ambition  of  many 
others,  perhaps  in  no  better  circumstances  than  ourselves,  with  my 
expensive  family,  I  might  years  ago  have  been  peeping  through  the 
grate  of  a  jail,  or  confined  within  its  bounds. 

"You  know,"  continues  Mr.  Palmer,  "that  the  Revolutionary  War 
commenced  in  the  spring  of  1775.  From  that  time  very  little  business 
was  done  in  my  line.  I  had  some  work  on  the  fortifications,  but  from 
that  time  until  Charleston  was  taken  we  had  to  rub  pretty  hard. 
After  the  fall  of  Charleston  we  carried  on  some  work  for  several 
months.  Then  the  British  commander  forbade  all  who  would  not 
take  protection  and  acknowledge  themselves  British  subjects,  to  do 
any  mechanical  business;  and  what  we  did  was  in  a  private  way. 
In  the  spring  of  1781,  I,  with  a  number  of  others,  was  put  on  board 
of  a  prison  ship  •  in  the  harbor  of  Charleston,  where  we  remained  until 
a  general  exchange  of  prisoners  took  place.  We  were  not  allowed 
residence  within  the  limits  of  British  power.  I  then  went  with  Mr. 
Thomas  Legare  and  a  number  of  others  to  Virginia,  leaving  our 
families  in  Charleston,  intending  to  return  by  land  and  get  them  out. 
We  returned  to  Camden  and  there  heard  that  the  British  commander 
had  obliged  them  to  leave  (Charleston.  Your  mother,  in  her  weak 
state,  had  to  worry  about  to  procure  passage  to  Philadelphia.  A 
number  of  ladies  hired  a  small  vessel  to  carry  them  thither.     They 

*  Job  Palmer's  name  occurs  in  the  list  of  names  on  board  the  prison 
ship  Torbay.  The  reader  may  see  this  list  in  McCrad/s  South 
Carolina  in  the  Revolution,  pp.  358,  359,  footnote. 


The  Ancestors.     •  .  ii 

arrived  at  Philadelphia  on  the  nth  of  September,  1781.  Fourteen 
days  thereafter  a  child  was  born  to  us.  On  learning  the  destination 
of  our  families  Mr.  Legare  and  I  set  out  for  Philadelphia. 

"When  I  returned  from  Philadelphia  with  my  family,  in  the  spring 
of  1783,  after  the  British  had  left  Charleston,  I  was  applied  to  by  a 
lady  to  open  a  singing  school  in  her  house,  to  instruct  her  daughters 
and  some  other  young  ladies  in  vocal  music.  I  did  so,  and  con- 
tinued my  school  two  afternoons  in  a  week  for  a  year  or  more.  In 
the  winter  I  opened  an  evening  school  for  both  sexes,  two  evenings 
in  a  week,  and  continued  these  schools  in  the  winters,  until  the  spring 
of  1788,  when  I,  with  my  wife  and  one  child,  paid  a  visit  to  my 
friends  in  Falmouth,  after  an  absence  of  eighteen  years.  Returning 
home  in  the  fall,  I  taught  a  school  for  some  winters  afterward.  The 
profits  arising  from  these  schools  aided  me  considerably  in  the  support 
of  my  family."] 

"On  March  27,  1798,  I  was  united  in  marriage  with  Mrs.  Elsther 
Miller,  aunt  to  some  of  you,  to  others  great-aunt."  [This  lady  was 
a  sister  to  his  first  wife.]  "She  was  an  affectionate,  tender  wife  to  me, 
particularly  in  sickness,  or  any  bodily  distress.  She  departed  this 
life  June  16,  1832,  a  short  time  after  the  death  of  our  daughter,  Hetty 
Maria,  by  our  marriage. 

"On  the  fourth  of  November,  1814,  I  was  elected  one  of  the  deacons 
of  our  church  and  continued  active  in  that  office  until  and*  including 
the  celebration  of  the  Lord's  Supper  in  May,  1840,  being  then  eight 
months  in  the  ninety-third  year  of  my  age  and  the  twenty-sixth  year 
of  my  office  as  deacon.  From  that  time  I  concluded  to  discontinue 
service  at  the  Lord's  table,  unless  there  should  be  a  deficiency  of  dea- 
cons at  any  time.  Not  that  I  was  weary  in  serving  my  brothers  and 
sisters  in  that  ordinance;  but  I  thought  it  proper  for  me  to  retire  and 
let  the  younger  deacons  serve,  of  whom  there  was  a  sufficient  num- 

DCla       ...  • 

"My  dear  descendants,  I  think  you  will  believe  that  I  have  cause 
to  feel  a  strong  attachment  to  the  church  where  I  have  performed  the 
duty  of  clerk  and  sexton  thirty-nine  years,  excepting  the  time  the 
British  army  held  possession  of  Charleston,  in  which  I  have  been  a 
deacon  for  twenty-six  years,  and  in  which  I  have  enjoyed  the  priv- 
ileges of  a  member  in  full  communion  for  sixty-eight  years. 

"If  I  have  discharged  my  duty  faithfully  in  the  situation  I  have 
occupied,  I  desire  with  gratitude  to  ascribe  all  the  praise  to  God, 
who  has  disposed  and  enabled  me  thus  to  perform  them. 

"Job  Palmer,  aged  ninety-three  years  and  six  months,  March, 
1841." 


Mr.  Job  Palmer  was  deeply  interested  in  the  subjects  of 
the  deity  of  our  Lord  and  the  vicarious  atonement.     These 


12         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

doctrines  were  being  condemned  by  many  teachers,  especially 
amongst  the  New  England  Congregationalists  and  their  dis- 
ciples wherever  found.  Mr.  Palmer  was  particularly  concerned 
that  his  own  children  should  never  accept  the  Unitarian  views. 
The  vigorous  old  man  set  himself  to  gather  the  evidences  from 
the  Scriptures  bearing  on  this  question.  He  arranged  long 
lists  of  Scripture  passages  under  the  three  heads :  First,  those 
texts  that  bear  positive  testimony  to  the  supreme  deity  of 
Christ;  second,  those  that  yield  "collateral  evidence  thereof;" 
and,  third,  those  which  speak  of  his  coming  into  the  world 
by  the  Father's  appointment  and  with  his  own  free  consent, 
fulfilling  the  law  of  God  and  so  magnifying  it  and  making 
it  honorable,  dying  to  make  atonement  for  all  those  who  em- 
brace him  with  true  vital  piety.  He  states  that  he  has  held 
this  doctrine  for  sixty-three  years,  and  sees  no  reason  for  the 
change,  but  that  all  his  reading  and  reflection  tend  to  fix  him 
the  more  firmly  in  his  faith  in  Christ's  divinity. 

The  preface  of  this  remarkable  paper  is  in  the  following 
words : 

"To  my  dear  descendants  who  may  see  this  paper  after  my  death, 
I  leave  it  and  what  it  contains,  as  a  memorial  of  my  tender  regard 
for  them,  and  my  earnest  desire  and  prayer  for  their  eternal  wel- 
fare; and  strongly  recommend  to  them,  and  more  especially  to  those 
of  them,  if  any  such  there  should  be,  who  have  doubts  in  their 
minds  of  the  Supreme  Divinity  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ  and  of  his 
suffering  to  make  an  atonement  for  sin,  that  they  read  the  following 
passages  of  Scripture  carefully,  and  prayerfully,  that  their  minds 
may  be  led  to  a  knowledge  of  the  truth  as  it  is  in  Jesus  Christ,  and 
that  their  hearts  may  be  disposed  to  embrace  it. 

"As  it  hath  pleased  Almighty  God  to  prolong  my  life  to  the  ad- 
vanced age  of  eighty-eight  and  to  preserve  to  me  my  health  and 
strength  of  body  and  other  faculties  of  body  and  mind  in  so  great  a 
degree;  and  to  give  me  the  privilege,  time,  and  disposition  to  read 
and  search  the  Scriptures  to  discover  the  truth  contained  in  them,  it 
has  been  my  desire  and  endeavor,  while  reading  them,  to  select  such 
passages  from  them  as  appeared  to  me  sufficient  evidence  to  establish 
the  truth  of  certain  doctrines,  the  belief  of  which  appears  to  me,  if 
not  absolutely  essential,  yet  very  necessary  for  the  salvation  and 
comfort  of  those  who  are  seeking  salvation  as  they  ought  to  do." 

The  paper  was  apparently  written  first  when  he  was  eighty- 
six  years  of  age;  but  was  re-written,  enlarged  and  strength- 
ened when  he  was  eighty-eight.    When  it  is  remembered  that 


The  Ancestors.  13 

he  wrought  it  without  the  aid  of  modem  Bible  study  helps, 
it  appears  no  mean  piece  of  work.  Without  collegiate  educa- 
tion, Mr.  Palmer  evidently  made  himself  a  man  of  no  small 
cultivation. 

His  occupation  was  that  of  a  contractor  and  builder.  In 
this  business,  he  succeeded  in  supporting  in  comfort  his  large 
family.  He  was  the  father  of  sixteen  children.  He  was  a 
splendid  type  of  simple-minded  integrity  and  Christian  char- 
acter in  the  home  and  in  the  business  world.  Well  may  his 
posterity  honor  him.  In  the  full  possession  of  his  faculties, 
almost  to  the  last,  he  died  at  the  age  of  ninety-seven. 

Two  of  his  sons  entered  the  ministry.  One  of  them  was  the 
Rev.  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer,  Sr.  ^le  was  for  many  years 
pastor  of  the  Circular  (Independent)  Church  of  Charleston. 
He  was  a  man  of  learned  and  deep  piety;  dogmatic  and  con- 
servative; aggressive  and  masterful;  somewhat  of  a  pope  in 
Charleston.  But  he  was  greatly  beloved  by  his  people.  He 
was  not  without  a  glowing  imagination  and  oratorical  talent. 
His  sermons,  always  written,  were  logical,  concise  and  of  a 
practical  rather  than  a  theoretical  method.  To  the  other  min- 
isterial son  we  must  give  more  attention. 

Rev.  Edward  Palmer  (1788-1882). 

To  Mr.  Job  Palmer  was  bom  in  the  city  of  Charleston, 
S.  C,  December  25,  1788,  a  son  who  received  the  name  of 
Edward.  He  was  the  eighth  of  sixteen  children.  He  received 
an  excellent  English  education,  which  was  not  entirely  arrested 
when,  at  the  age  of  fifteen,  he  was  taken  into  his  father's  busi- 
ness. 

Upon  reaching  the  age  of  twenty-three  he  preferred  to  en- 
gage in  teaching,  which  calling  he  pursued  for  nine  years 
with  profit  and  success.  On  the  first  of  January,  1812,  he  was 
united  in  marriage  with  Miss  Sarah  Bunce. 

Though  reared  under  the  most  favorable  religious  influences 
he  did  not  make  an  early  profession  of  faith*  in  Christ.  As 
far  back  as  his  memory  could  reach  he  was  the  "subject  of 
frequent  and  deep  convictions  of  sin  and  guilt."  On  three 
occasions — in  the  fifteenth,  twentieth,  and  twenty-second  years 
of  his  life — "the  great  controversy  was  well-nigh  closed  in  the 
final  surrender  of  his  heart  to  God."  He  continued  vacillat- 
ing, nevertheless,  "between  hope  and  fear  through  succeeding 


14         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

years,"  until  1819;  when,  in  his  thirty-first  year,  he  gave  his 
testimony  to  wonder-working  grace.  This  step  involved  an- 
other, that  of  "setting  before  others  the  great  and  glorious 
salvation."  The  manner  of  his  call  to  the  ministry  may  be 
related  in  his  own  words: 

"I  was  at  the  time  stated  a  member  of  several  societies^-one,  a 
Musical  Association;  another  a  Young  Men's  Missionary  Society — 
at  which  I  had  been  called  to  deliver  public  addresses.  On  one  of 
these  occasions,  Mr.  Jonas  King,  afterwards  a  distinguished  missionaiy 
to  Greece,  was  present.  At  the  close  he  accompanied  me  home,  and 
in  the  course  of  conversation,  asked  me  if  I  had  ever  thought  of  the 
ministry  myself.  I  promptly  replied:  'Look,  my  dear  sir,  at  a  fond 
wife  and  four  lovely  children,  whom  I  am  bound  by  every  tender  and 
holy  tie  to  support,  and  then  say  whether  that  question  can  be 
asked.'  To  which  he  rejoined:  *If  the  Lord  shall  call,  he  will  pre- 
pare the  way.'  Rev.  Dr.  Porter,  of  Andover  Seminary,  being  also  in 
the  city,  sent  for  me;  and,  after  a  long  and  interesting  interview,  not' 
only  encouraged  the  step,  but  imposed  upon  me  the  prayerful  considera- 
tion of  the  matter;  all  of  which  culminated  in  my  departure  to  the 
North  in  1820." 

"The  magnitude  of  this  decision"  begins  to  dawn  on  one 
when  he  recalls  the  fact  that,  though  Mr.  Palmer  was  thirty- 
two  years  old,  he  was  ignorant  of  the  Latin  grammar;  that 
his  preparation  for  the  ministry  involved  a  four  years*  course 
of  preparation,  and  a  long  separation  from  his  family.  See 
him  then  at  this  mature  age  amongst  the  boys  at  Phillips  Acad- 
emy, Andover,  Mass.,  for  eighteen  months.  In  September, 
182 1,  he  matriculated  in  the  Seminary  at  Andover.  So  suc- 
cessful was  he  as  a  student  during  his  years  of  preparation, 
that  the  faculty  at  Andover,  without  his  knowledge  of  their  in- 
tention, procured  for  him  from  Yale  College  the  degree  of 
Master  of  Arts. 

He  was  licensed  in  July,  1824,  by  a  Congregational  Asso- 
ciation, and  in  October  of  the  same  year,  was  ordained  as  an 
evangelist.  *  In  the  fall  of  1824,  he  was  installed  pastor  of  the 
church  at  Dorchester,  about  eighteen  miles  from  Charles- 
ton, by  the  Congregational  Association  which  then  existed  on 
the  sea-board  of  South  Carolina;  but  which  with  a  portion 
of  Harmony  Presbytery,  was  formed  in  1827  into  the  Charles- 
ton Union  Presbytery.  After  two  years  and  a  half  in  this 
pastorate,  he  removed  to  a  wider  sphere  of  labor  at  Walterboro, 
S.  C.    In  the  fall  of  1831,  he  accepted  a  call  to  the  Presb3rterian 


The  Ancestors.  15 

Church  at  Stony  Creek,  in  the  District  of  Beaufort.  There 
he  remained  until  the  year  1844,  giving,  however,  toward  the 
latter  part  of  the  period,  a  portion  of  his  time  to  Walterboro. 
Returning  to  Walterboro  in  1844,  he  served  that  field  till  1855, 
then  returned  to  Stony  Creek  which  he  served  till  1861.  Go- 
ing back  again  to  Walterboro  in  1861,  he  continued  to  serve 
that  people  till  1874,  his  eighty-sixth  year.  In  this  year  led 
by  a  sore  domestic  bereavement  he  resigned  his  pastoral  office 
and  was,  thenceforth,  cared  for  by  his  children.  He  retained 
his  vigor,  physical  and  mental,  well  beyond  his  ninetieth  year. 

Rarely  has  there  been  a  man  so  much  beloved  within  the 
circle  of  his  acquaintances.  He  was  loved  by  every  class  of 
society  and  by  the  representatives  of  every  type  of  religious 
belief.  He  was  an  excellent  preacher,  a  man  of  vast  energy, 
singularly  pure  in  his  dispositions,  and  ever  ready  to  go,  like 
the  Master,  to  the  lowliest  of  the  people  with  the  everlasting 
Gospel.  He  was  assiduous  in  his  efforts  in  behalf  of  the 
African  race.  He  was  marked  for  the  catholicity  of  his  feel- 
ings in  religion. 

In  his  first  wife,  Sarah  Bunce,  he  had  united  himself  with 
a  lady  of  extraordinary  capacities  and  character. 

Sarah  Bunce. 

Sarah  Bunce  was  the  daughter  of  Captain  Jared  Bunce, 
who  was  born  near  Hartford,  Conn.,  May  12,  1759.  He  used 
to  say  he  could  trace  his  ancestry  back  to  an  Alderman  Bunce, 
who  lived  in  London  in  the  time  of  Cromwell.  His  mother 
was  a  Griswold  and  was  connected  with  the  Stanleys  whose 
remote  ancestor  was  Edward  Stanley,  Earl  of  Derby.  Jared 
Bunce  was  a  merchant  in  early  life ;  but  failed  in  business  and 
went  to  sea.  He  commanded  the  packet  Gjcorgia,  sailing 
between  Philadelphia  and  Charleston,  in  both  of  which  places 
he  was  well  known  and  greatly  beloved  as  an  intelligent  and 
remarkably  cheerful  Christian.  Extant  letters  prove  that  he 
was  a  man  of  great  independence  and  vigor  of  thought  and 
expression.  %  February  11,  1779,  he  married  Lydia  Pettiplace 
(now  called  Pettis  in  New  England),  a  woman  revered  by  her 
acquaintances  alike  for  her  piety  and  her  intellectual  worth. 

The  children  of  this  couple  seem  to  have  been  persons  of 
the  most  lively  and  forceful  intellectual  and  moral  natures. 
Of  their  posterity  have  been  Admiral  F.  M.  Bunce,  and  his 


i6         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

brothers,  Edward  and  Jonathan.  Three  of  Captain  Jared 
Bunce's  daughters  married  ministers:  Mary  Stanley  Bunce 
married  the  Rev.  Dr.  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer,  Sr. ;  Sarah 
married  the  Rev.  Edward  Palmer,  and  Harriet  the  Rev.  Allen 
Wright,  a  missionary  to  the  Choctaws,  These  were  all  extra- 
ordinary women.  Says  Prof.  Charles  Woodward  Hutson, 
a  nephew :  "Mrs.  Wright  I  met  twice,  once  as  a  boy ;  and  again 
as  a  young  man  in  my  last  year  at  college.  She  was  the 
tallest  woman  I  ever  saw,  and  of  most  commanding  presence. 
When  I  first  knew  her,  she  delighted  me  with  wondrous  tales 
of  Indian  life  and  vividly  narrated  folk-lore,  and  with  the  sing- 
ing of  hymns  in  Choctaw.  On  the  later  occasion  I  was  almost 
constantly  with  her  for  the  greater  part  of  the  summer,  at  Mar- 
ietta, Ga.,  in  the  house  of  her  nephew,  the  Rev.  Edward 
Porter  Palmer ;  and  I  have  seldom  met  any  one  whose  talk 
was  more  charming,  whose  literary  taste  was  so  pure  and 
withal  so  enthusiastic.  I  have  often  wished  that  I  had  taken 
notes  at  the  time  of  our  conversation." 

Mrs.  Sarah  Bunce  Palmer  was  born  in  her  father's  home, 
in  Weathersfield,  Conn.  She  was  a  woman  of  remarkably 
strong  and  vigorous  mind.  By  degrees  she  gave  herself,  as 
we  shall  see,  a  very  thorough  education  and  large  culture. 
She  was  a  great  reader  and  "a  deep  thinker,"  a  woman  of  rare 
native  refinement.  She  possessed  moral  nerve,  as  appears 
from  the  following,  amongst  other  things  related  of  her :  When 
she  was  about  fifteen  years  of  age,  her  father  had  his  home  in 
Philadelphia.  Her  mother  had  died,  and  the  father  had  mar- 
ried a  second  time.  The  stepmother  was  amiable  but  incapable 
of  governing  the  younger  children,  as  Sarah  and  her  older  sis- 
ter thought  they  ought  to  be  governed.  The  father  being  ab- 
sent at  sea,  these  sisters  thought  the  two  younger  ones  should 
be  sent  to  Weathersfield,  Conn.,  for  schooling  and  training. 
The  fifteen-year-old  Sarah  dressed  herself  so  as  to  look  as  old 
as  possible,  donned  a  "poke-bonnet,"  amongst  other  articles  in- 
dicative of  the  state  of  aged  womanhood,  and  successfully  car- 
ried her  two  younger  sisters  from  Philadelphia  to  Weathers- 
field, accomplishing  her  journey  in  safety.  She  became  noted 
for  her  exalted  character  and  for  her  devotion  to  her  duties  as 
a  pastor's  wife.  Along  with  her  uncommon  intellectual  in- 
tensity and  her  strength  of  will,  she  had  a  sunny  disposition 
and  a  love  for  the  beautiful,  which  made  her  a  general  favorite, 
especially  with  the  young. 


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The  Ancestors.  17 

In  physical  appearance,  she  was  a  woman  of  medium  height, 
slender,  with  a  lofty  and  well-moulded  brow,  a  penetrating, 
steel-blue  eye,  finely  chiseled  nose,  firm  mouth,  flexible  lips, 
strong  but  not  stubborn  chin. 

In  the  next  chapter  but  one  we  shall  see  that  Benjamin 
Morgan  Palmer,  her  son,  inherited  much  from  the  civilization 
into  which  he  was  born  and  amidst  which  he  grew  up,  much 
from  the  Palmers,  from  his  great-grandfather  Samuel  down, 
something  from  the  Morgans,  but  most  of  all  from  his  mother. 


CUAPTER  11. 

FEATURES   OF   THE  CIVILIZATION  AMIDST   WHICH  HE 

DEVELOPED. 
(1818-1860.) 

"I  AM  A  South  Carounian,  you  Know." — The  Distinguishing 
Features  of  South  Carolina  Qvil  Life  and  Government. — ^Their 
Belt  of  Influence. — Their  Source  the  Low  Country. — This 
the  Region  in  Which  Young  Palmer  Grew  up. — This  Region 
Described  Geographically  and  Historically. — ^The  People  of  this 
Region. — Their  Life  on  the  Plantations  and  in  the  Summer 
Settlements. — ^Their  Education,  Libraries,  and  General  Cul- 
ture.— Their  Sports  and  Recreations. — Their  Poutics. — The 
Moral  and  Religious  Tone  of  the  Community. 

1AM  a  South  Carolinian,  you  know."  Benjamin  Morgan 
Palmer,  in  his  mature  years,  was  wont  to  make  this  state- 
ment from  time  to  time,  in  explanation  of  views  which  he  held 
and  courses  of  action  which  he  pursued.  He  thus  evinced  his 
consciousness  of  having  adopted,  and  made  his  own,  not  a  little 
from  the  distinguishing  features  of  South  Carolina  civilization. 
And  it  is  not  unsafe  to  say  that,-  in  his  political  views,  in  his 
social  ideals,  in  his  manners,  in  a  certain  quality  of  heroic 
daring,  and  in  the  persistent  maintenance  of  his  views  against 
all  comers,  he  soon  became,  and  ever  remained,  a  noble  ex- 
ponent of  much  that  was  the  best  and  highest  in  South  Caro- 
lina civilization.  Nor  is  there  anything  strange  in  this.  His 
whole  life,  two  or  three  years  excepted,  was  spent  within  the 
sphere  in  which  South  Carolina  ideals  were  dominant.  The 
South  Carolina  type  of  civilization  was  a  noble  and  impressive 
one;  particularly  impressive  to  one  of  ardent  and  imaginative 
temper,  and  the  strong  sense  of  justice,  and  absolute  fearless- 
ness in  its  defence,  by  which  he  was  characterized.  That  type 
of  civilization  had  produced  the  finest  fruits,  he  knew :  men  of 
the  first  water,  men  of  thought  and  action,  of  knightly  spirit, 
and  of  bearing  heroic  to  the  point  of  sublimity. 

However  much  alike  the  types  of  civilization  in  the  several 
States  of  these  United  States  may  seem  to  the  superficial  for- 
eign observer,  the  close  student  amongst  the  home  born  knows 
that  every  State  has  had  its  own  individual  type  of  civilization. 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  '19 

a  type  "as  distinct  and  persistent  as  that  of  the  leading  Greek 
cities."  He  knows,  too,  that  amongst  these  States,  three  have 
possessed  civilizations  of  marked  and  dominating  individu- 
alities, viz.t  Massachusetts,  Virginia  and  South  Carolina;  and 
that,  amongst  these  three,  the  South  Carolina  type  stands  out 
with  especial  distinctness,  "with  dauntless  and  defiant  spirit, 
fiery  temper,  and  venturesome  diivalry." 

The  distinctive  South  Carolina  features  of  civil  life  and  gov- 
ernment were  a  sentiment  of  independence  in  regard  to  the 
other  states,  "the  centripetal  character"  of  her  government, 
the  struggle  between  the  aristocratic  and  democratic  tenden- 
cies in  the  body  itself,  and  the  inviolability  of  the  family  rela- 
tion.^ 

Her  sentiment  of  independence  in  regard  to  the  other  states 
had  been  bred  of  her  history.  The  colony  of  South  Carolina 
was  from  her  planting,  in  1670,  to  1733,  when  Oglethorpe  es- 
tablished his  colony  of  Georgia,  the  lonely  and  remote  out- 
post between  the  other  English  colonies,  and,  on  the  one  hand, 
the  Spaniards  at  St.  Augustine,  and  on  the  other,  the  French 
toward  the  Mississippi.  Planted  to  assert  the  dominion  of 
Great  Britain  against  that  of  Spain  in  disputed  territory,  the 
immigrants  had  not  yet  settled  on  the  Ashley  when  the  Span- 
iards appeared  and  gave  notice  that  the  colony  must  fight  for 
its  existence.  "France,  also,  advancing  her  claims  to  the  ter- 
ritory eastward  of  the  Mississippi  and  northward  of  Mobile, 
was  disputing  the  westward  limits  of  Carolina.  The  Indian 
tribes,  with  whom  the  Spaniards  and  French  alike  coalesced 
with  greater  facility  than  did  the  English  colonists,  presented 
the  ready  means  of  continual  though  unavowed  hostility,  and 
circumscribed  the  advance  of  the  colony  not  only  by  open  war- 
fare, but  by  the  dread  of  the  hireling  savage."  ^  For  safety 
against  Spanish,  French  and  Indians,  coming  singly  or  in  com- 
bination, the  colony  of  South  Carolina  had  to  depend  on  itself, 
for  the  most  part.  In  the  Great  Indian  War  of  171 5,  North 
Carolina  and  Virginia  gave  indeed,  little  and  feeble  assistance. 
South  Carolina  down  to  the  Revolutionary  War,  continued  to 
fight  her  battles  with  relatively  little  outside  help.     The  first 

*  These  characteristics  are  ably  illustrated  by  McCrady  in  his  great 
work  on  South  Carolina  colonial  history. 

*  McCrady,  History  of  South  Carolina  under  the  Proprietary  Gov^ 
emment,  pj).  683,  684. 


20         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

British  soldiers  seen  in  the  province  of  South  Carolina,  with 
the  exception  of  Oglethorpe's  regiment  which  had  been 
raised  by  him  for  special  service  in  Georgia,  were  those  un- 
der Colonel  Archibald  Montgomery,  sent  in  1760  to  aid  in 
the  war  against  the  Cherokees,  She  had  swept  her  coasts  of 
pirates  also,  largely  by  the  strategy  and  tactics,  the  daring  and 
valor  of  her  own  men.  During  the  Revolutionary  struggle,  her 
chief,  and  at  times,  only  succorers  were  her  own  people,  who 
developed  an  ability  to  endure  and  a  skill  and  persistence  in 
partisan  warfare  which  has  rarely  been  equalled  in  the  annals 
of  any  people,  and  which  unnerved  and  wore  away  the  armies 
of  her  invaders.  During  this  period  she  often  feared  that  she 
had  been  utterly  abandoned  by  the  States  to  the  north.  Not 
without  considerable  assistance  indeed,  but  largely  by  her  own 
exertions,  she  achieved  her  own  sovereign  independence;  and 
in  the  process  of  doing  so  had  given  vast  encouragement  and 
help  to  her  sister  States  in  their  struggles.  So  circumstanced 
throughout  most  of  her  history  as  to  be  under  the  stern  neces- 
sity of  taking  care  of  herself,  she  had  responded  to  the  neces- 
sity and  had  in  doing  so  wrought  into  the  very  fiber  of  her 
being  the  sentiment  of  independence  with  reference  to  all  other 
political  bodies. 

In  like  manner  this  sentiment  had  been  impressed  by  the  con- 
flict with  the  Proprietary  Government  which  had  ended  in  suc- 
cessful revolutions  on  the  part  of  the  colonists  and  their  over- 
throw of  that  government ;  and  by  the  unceasing  conflict  there- 
after with  the  royal  government  in  behalf  "of  those  natural 
rights  that  we  all  feel  and  know  as  men  and  as  descendants 
of  Englishmen."  Not  unnaturally,  the  provocations  being 
great,  about  the  time  young  Palmer  wakes  into  vigorous  men- 
tal life,  we  shall  find  Nullification  running  high  in  South  Caro- 
lina. Not  unnaturally,  the  provocations  being  great,  about  the 
time  he  reaches  his  early  prime,  we  shall  find  Secession  an 
accomplished  fact;  and  that  he  himself  is  an  outspoken  and 
determined  secessionist.  Both  facts  are  the  outcome  of  the 
history  of  earlier  South  Carolina. 

The  centripetal  character  of  the  government  is  another  dis- 
tinguishing mark  of  South  Carolina  civilization.  It  also  was 
induced  by  the  treatment  of  the  colony  by  the  mother  country, 
and  by  her  isolation  and  exposure  to  invasion  from  all  sides. 
In  Virginia  the  colonial  growth  was  by  rural  communities. 
There  was  no  city,  or  town,  life.     In  New  England  the  colo- 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  21 

nists  separated  early  into  different  towns,  but  in  South  Caro- 
lina the  ever-impending  danger  of  invasion  by  Spaniards,  In- 
dians, and  French,  "restricted  the  colonists  for  many  years  to 
distances  within  reach  of  Charlestown." 

"When  this  danger  was  overcome  by  the  increase  of  the  population, 
and  the  founding  and  building  up  of  the  colony  of  Georgia,  the  un- 
healthfulness  of  the  country  along  the  river,  increased,  if  not  caused 
by  the  disturbance  of  the  soil  and  the  stagnant  water  of  rice  planting 
in  the  inland  swamps,  compelled  the  planters  to  reside  in  the  summer 
in  the  town  or  in  some  high  resinous  pine  land  settlement  apart,  as 
they  thought,  from  malaria.  Thus,  until  the  immigration  of  the 
Scotch-Irish  and  Virginians  into  the  upper  cotmtry  by  way  of  the 
mountains,  from  1750  to  1760,  the  development  of  the  colony  was  from 
one  point,  the  circle  enlarging  as  the  population  increased,  but  always 
with  reference  to  the  one  central  point, — the  town — Charles  Town. 

"The  development  of  Carolina  thus  presented  the  anomaly  that, 
though  it  was  a  planters'  colony,  it  was  developed  by  way  of  city,  or 
town,  life.  Boston  was  the  largest  town  in  Massachusetts,  but  there 
was  organization  and  administration  outside  of  it.  For  many  years 
Charles  Town  practically  embodied  all  of  Carolina.  Beaufort,  the  next 
town  to  be  settled,  was  not  attempted  for  more  than  forty  years  after 
the  planting  of  the  colony  and  Georgetown  not  until  some  years  later. 
Until  1716  elections  were  generally  held  in  the  town  for  all  the 
province,  and  representation  outside  of  it — ^that  by  parishes — ^was  not 
practically  established  until  the  overthrow  of  the  proprietary  govern- 
ment in  1719.  No  court  of  general  jurisdiction  was  held  outside  of 
it  until  1773,  over  a  hundred  years  after  the  establishment  of  the 
colony.  There  was  only  one  government  for  the  province,  the  town 
and  the  church.  The  same  General  Assembly  passed  laws  for  the 
province,  laid  out  streets,  regulated  the  police  for  the  town,  and 
governed  the  church.  Even  after  the  colony  had  grown,  and  the  upper 
country  had  been  peopled  from  another  source,  every  magistrate  in 
the  province  was  appointed  in  Charles  Town  until  the  Revolution  of 
1776,  and  after  that,  upon  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution  of  1790 
and  the  change  of  the  seat  of  government  to  Columbia,  at  that 
place.  There  was  thus  from  the  inception  of  the  colony  in  1665  to  the 
overthrow  of  the  State  in  1865,  for  two  hundred  years  only  one 
g^ovemment  in  South  Carolina.  There  was  no  such  thing  as  a  county 
or  township  government  of  any  kind."' 

In  the  facts,  that  the  controlling  element  of  the  original 
South  Carolina  settlers  was  from  Barbadoes,  and  that  under 

■McCrady,  History  of  South  Carolina  under  the  Proprietary  Gov- 
ernment, p.  7. 


22         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Yeamans,  it  brought  with  it  a  colonial  system  which  had  at  its 
basis  the  institution  of  African  slavery,  and  that  upon  this 
social  order  an  attempt  was  made  to  engraft  "a  legally  recog- 
nized aristocracy  of  Landgraves  and  Caciques,  proposed  by 
Locke  and  adopted  by  the  Proprietors  under  the  influence  of 
Shaftsbury,"  we  have  the  occasions  of  the  emergence  of  an- 
other marked  trait  of  South  Carolina  civilization, —  "a  strongly 
aristocratic  tone  with  a  party  for  sustaining  prerogative," 
and  on  the  other  hand  from  the  very  outset  "a  party  of  the 
people  who  based  their  rights  upon  the  dogma  of  a  strict  con- 
struction of  chartered  or  constitutional  provisions."  We  shall 
find  that  Palmer,  like  the  dominant  party  of  his  state,  was  a 
strict  constructionist. 

Again,  the  hostility  of  the  Spaniards,  the  French  and  the 
Indians,  "necessitated,  from  the  beginning,  a  military  organ- 
ization of  the  people."  This  was  made  the  more  necessary  by 
the  increasing  number  of  negro  slaves, — savages, — ^a  source 
of  weakness  in  time  of  danger,  for  a  long  period,  till  the  insti- 
tution became  thoroughly  settled,  a  constant  source  "of  care 
and  anxiety."  The  colonists  were  long  afraid  of  a  negro  ris- 
ing on  occasion  of  a  war  with  the  Spanish,  French,  or  Indians. 
Under  these  spurs  a  military  police  organization  of  the  whole 
people  was  effected,  and  "continued  from  1704  until  the  eman- 
cipation of  the  negroes  as  the  result  of  the  war  of  secession." 

"Under  this  system  the  province,  and  afterwards  the  state,  was 
divided  into  military  districts,  the  chief  of  each  of  which  was  a 
colonel,  and  these  again  into  other  districts,  or  beats,  under  captains. 
The  captain  was  the  police  officer  of  his  district,  or  beat,  and  was 
charged  with  the  patrol  and  police  of  his  beat  and  the  enforcement 
of  the  regulations  in  regard  to  slaves.  The  regimental  and  company 
military  precincts  were  thus  coincident  with  the  police  districts  and 
the  two  formed  one  system.  .  .  .  This  system  gave  a  military 
organization  to  the  people  which  was  much  more  effective  and 
exacting  than  ordinary  militia  enrollment  and  muster.  So  imbued  was 
the  system  of  government  brought  from  Barbadoes  with  a  military 
spirit  that  the  high  sheriff  of  the  province  retained  the  military  title 
of  'provost-marshal'  for  a  hundred  years — indeed,  until  the  American 
Revolution.  To  this  source  may  be  traced  the  prevalence  of  military 
titles  in  the  South,  as  that  of  'judge,'  or  'squire'  in  other  communities, 
indicating  persons  of  local  consequence."* 

*McCrady,  History  of  South  Carolina  under  the  Proprietary  Gov- 
ernment,  p.  10. 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  23. 

The  inviolability  of  the  family  relation  is  another  feature  of 
South  Carolina  civilization.  Her  people  have  recognized  that 
the  family  is  the  strength  of  the  State.  They  have  done  all  in 
their  power  to  uphold  its  integrity  and  to  minister  to  its  purity 
and  power.  There  never  has  been  a  divorce  in  South  Carolina 
except  during  the  Reconstruction  period  after  the  war  between 
the  sections,  when  the  government  was  in  the  hands  of  carpet- 
baggers and  negroes.  There  is  but  one  case  reported  in  her 
law  books,  "and  that  was  during  that  infamous  rule."  Some 
South  Carolinians  think  that  this  devotion  to  the  purity  of  the 
family  has  been  rewarded  by  many  long  lines  of  illustrious 
men  of  the  same  blood. 

These  principles  prevailed  to  a  greater  or  less  degree  far 
beyond  the  bounds  of  South  Carolina.  There  have  been  three 
great  belts  of  influence  reaching  across  the  territory  of  these 
United  States:  One  dominated  by  Massachusetts,  one  domin- 
ated by  Virginia,  and  one  dominated  by  South  Carolina.  In 
the  days  of  secession  South  Carolina  was  quickly  followed  by 
the  states  of  her  belt. 

In  South  Carolina  itself,  these  principles  had  had  their  source 
in  the  low  country,  which  had  been  settled,  and  in  which  civil 
government  had  been  established  long  before  the  upper  coun- 
try was  inhabited  by  white  men.  Indeed,  the  upper  country, 
when  at  length  settled  by  the  Scotch-Irish  and  Englishmen 
from  Virginia,  would  have  welcomed  a  less  "centripetal"  gov- 
ernment; but  hindered  in  their  desires  by  office  holders  non- 
resident in  the  colony,  this,  with  the  other  characteristics  of 
the  government  developed  by  low  country  conditions,  became  a 
fixed  feature  of  the  state  as  a  whole. 

Young  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer  grew  up  in  the  low  coun- 
try, in  the  very  well-spring  of  the  distinctive  features  of  the 
South  Carolina  civilization ;  and  when  he  said,  "I  am  a  South 
Carolinian,  you  know,"  he  probably  meant  that  he  was  a  South 
Carolinian  of  the  low  country  type ;  that  he  had  drawn  in  with 
the  maternal  milk  not  only  the  great  distinctive  features  of 
the  civilization  of  the  State  as  a  whole  but  the  peculiarities 
of  this  primal  region  of  the  colony  and  the  State.  Hence  it 
is  necessary  to  go  somewhat  more  closely  into  the  mode  of 
life  of  this  particular  section. 

Bom 'in  Charleston,  he  grew  up  there,  at  Dorchester,  about 
twenty  miles  away  near  the  head  of  the  Ashley  river,  at  Wal- 
terboro,  which  was  originally  a  summer  settlement  for  planters 


24         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  the  Combahee  and  Ashepoo,  and  in  the  neighborhood  of 
McPhersonville,  or  in  that  village  itself,  which  is  situated 
about  four  or  five  miles  from  the  present  railway  junction  of 
Yemassee.  As  the  most  critical  and  impressive  years  of  his 
youth  were  passed  in  the  McPhersonville  neighborhood,  and  as 
there  he  was  in  the  midst  of  the  most  typical  low  country 
South  Carolina  life,  we  must  content  ourselves  with  a  sketch 
of  this  neighborhood. 

Geographically  •  this  region  consisted  of  peninsulas  formed 
by  the  rivers  Combahee,  Pocotaligo,  TuUifinny  and  Coosa- 
whatchie.  The  topographical  features  which  most  impressed 
the  traveler  were  the  salt  marshes,  toward  the  coast,  sometimes 
running  far  back;  the  frequent  rivers,  really  inlets  of  the  sea; 
the  vast  rice  plantations,  graded  and  cut  into  fields  by  skilled 
engineers,  the  back  water  gathered  and  husbanded  on  "re- 
serves" big  as  the  rice-fields  themselves,  for  the  watering  of 
the  rice  fields  during  certain  periods ;  the  numerous  causeways 
across  the  rice-planting  areas ;  the  lands  back  of  the  rice  fields 
too  high  for  that  industry,  and  hence  devoted  to  cotton  and 
corn;  beyond  them  the  "pine-lands,"  sandy  ridges  where  the 
long-leafed  pine  grew,  and  the  flatness  of  the  whole  country. 

The  region  was  rich  in  historical  associations.  Pocotaligo 
village,  about  four  miles  from  McPhersonville,  was  the  scene 
of  the  first  stage  of  the  terrible  massacre  which  began  at  day- 
break on  the  15th  of  April,  1715,  when  the  Yemassees  slaught- 
ered more  than  ninety  persons  in  that  village  and  on  adjacent 
plantations.  The  surrounding  country  was  the  scene  of  the 
Yemassee  war  which  immediately  followed,  and  in  which  a 
young  stripling  named  Palmer  won  honor. 

In  May,  1779,  Moultrie  had  retreated  through  this  region, 
before  General  Prevost  Moultrie  had  suffered  discomfiture 
in  a  portion  of  his  force  under  Colonel  John  Laurens  in  the 
affair  of  TuUifinny  Hill.  The  British  had  encamped  at  Poco- 
taligo. Here  they  had  erected  Fort  Balfour,  in  which  patri- 
otic South  Carolinians  of  the  neighborhood  had  been  impris- 
oned. In  this  general  region  William  Harden,  the  patriot,  and 
the  skilful  partisan  leader,  had  accomplished  some  of  his  val- 

*  For  the  sketch  of  this  neighborhood  we  have  received  the  materials 
from  Prof.  Charles  Woodward  Hutson,  College  Station,  Texas,  who 
was  born  and  bred  in  the  neighborhood  himself.  We  have  made  free 
use  of  his  language  as  well  as  of  his  matter. 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  25 

orous  deeds  in  his  country's  cause ;  amongst  other  things  cap- 
turing Fort  Balfour.  Young  Benjamin  Palmer  may  have 
looked  on  an  ancient  oak,  which  was  standing  at  the  beginning 
of  the  war  between  the  sections,  and  which  stood  some  paces 
beyond  the  little  hillock  that  marked  the  spot  where  one  of  the 
bastions  of  the  fort  had  stood.  It  "was  pointed  out  to  younger 
generations  as  that  in  the  hollow  of  which  at  its  base  the  be- 
sieged had  stored  a  cask  of  gunpowder,  on  which  they  were 
to  draw  at  need  when  their  powder  horns  should  give  out." 
Earlier  in  the  Revolutionary  War,  a  young  Tory,  Andrew 
De  Vaux,  in  order  to  commit  his  followers  irrevocably,  had 
ravaged  General  Stephen  Bull's  plantation  and  burned  Shel- 
don church,  in  what  is  now  Beaufort  county.  After  brilliant 
and  perilous  personal  adventures  he  had  risen  to  the  rank  of 
Major  in  the  Royal  Militia;  and  in  the  days  of  Harden's 
exploits  De  Vaux  was  making  brilliant  counter  strokes  from 
the  Stono  to  beyond  the  Georgia  line. 

As  to  the  living  people  of  the  region,  by  far  the  most  nu- 
merous portion  was  that  of  the  African  slaves.  While  re- 
garded as  in  some  respects  the  personal  property  of  their  mas- 
ters they  were  regarded  and  treated  by  no  means  as  ordinary 
chattels.  The  slave  code,  Barbadian  in  its  origin,  received 
various  amendments  till  1740,  when  it  took  on  the  form  main- 
tained substantially  till  the  abolition  of  the  institution  in  1865. 
The  amendments  of  1740  have  been  summarized  as  follows 
by  McCrady:* 

"A  penalty  of  £5  currency  was  imposed  on  any  person  who  employed 
a  slave  in  any  work  or  labor  (work  for  necessary  occasions  of  the 
family  only  excepted)  on  the  Lord's  Day,  commonly  called  Sunday. 
The  selling  of  strong  liquor  to  slaves  was  prohibited.  Slaves  were 
to  be  provided  with  sufficient  clothing,  covering,  and  food,  and  in  case 
any  owner  or  person  in  charge  of  slaves  neglected  to  make  such 
provision  the  neighboring  justice,  upon  complaint,  was  required  to  in- 
quire into  the  matter,  and  if  the  owner  or  person  in  charge  failed  to 
exculpate  himself  the  justice  might  make  such  orders  for  the  relief  of 
the  slave  as  in  his  discretion  he  should  think  fit. 

''And  because,  it  was  said,  by  reason  of  the  extent  and  distance  of 
plantations  in  the  province  the  inhabitants  were  far  removed  from  each 
other,  and  many  cruelties  might  be  committed  upon  slaves,  it  was 
provided  that  if  any  slave  should  suffer  in  life  or  limb,  or  be  beaten 
or  abused  contrary  to  the  direction  of  the  act,  when  no  white  person 

•  McCrady,  South  Carolina  under  the  Royal  Government,  pp.  230, 231. 


26         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

was  present,  or,  being  present,  refused  to  give  evidence,  the  owner 
or  person  in  charge  of  such  slave  should  be  deemed  to  be  guilty  of 
the  offence,  unless  he  made  the  contrary  appear  by  ^ood  and  suf- 
ficient evidence,  or  by  his  own  oath  cleared  and  exculpated  himself. 
This  oath  was  to  prevail  if  clear  proof  of  the  offence  was  not  made  by 
at  least  two  witnesses.  In  case  of  alleged  cruelty  to  a  slave  in  the 
absence  of  white  witnesses,  the  burden  of  proof  was  with  the  person 
making  the  charge,  while  the  oath  of  the  party  charged  might  excul- 
pate him  unless  against  the  oath  of  two  white  witnesses.  It  was 
something  at  least  that  the  owner  was  called  upon  to  show  his  inno- 
cence. Owners  were  prohibited  from  working  slaves  more  than  fifteen 
hours  in  the  twenty-four  from  the  2Sth  of  March  to  the  25th  of  Sep- 
tember, or  more  than  fourteen  hours  in  the  twenty-four  from  the 
2Sth  of  September  to  the  2Sth  of  March." 

McCrady  adds  that  this  slave  code  was  so  amended  in  1821, 
"that  if  anyone  should  murder  a  slave  he  should  suffer  death 
without  the  benefit  of  the  clergy,  and  if  anyone  should  kill  a 
slave  in  a  sudden  heat  and  passion  he  should  be  fined  not  ex- 
ceeding $500.00  and  be  imprisoned  not  exceeding  six  months." 
We  shall  see  that  the  treatment  of  the  slave  was  better  than  the 
law. 

There  were  grades  amongst  these  negroes,  the  individual's 
standing  in  the  social  scale  being  determined  in  part  by  the 
social  standing  of  his  master  in  his  sphere,  and  in  part  by  the 
native  endowments  with  which  he  was  bom,  and  in  part  by 
his  occupation.  There  was  a  big  step  between  the  house  ser- 
vants and  those  of  the  fields,  brought  about  by  the  following 
causes:  The  negroes  generally  were  fed  on  wholesome  and 
nutritious  food,  suitably  but  coarsely  clothed.  They  were,  in 
the  main,  a  contented  and  even  a  joyous  people.  But  those  in 
domestic  service  had  been  selected  from  the  most  intelligent, 
best  behaved,  and  most  teachable  of  all  the  slaves  owned  by 
the  master.  They  were  usually  the  offspring  of  tribes  higher 
than  those  that  furnished  the  bulk  of  imported  Africans ;  and 
they  had,  by  this  time,  been  in  hereditary  close  contact  with 
ladies  and  gentlemen  long  enough  to  acquire  good  manners, 
and  in  some  cases,  good  morals.  They  had  enjoyed  the  further 
advantage  over  their  fellows  of  going  through  the  annual 
change  of  climate  and  surroundings  along  with  their  masters 
and  mistresses.  They  had  grown  up  the  playmates  of  white 
children  and  between  them  and  their  owners  there  was  a  spe- 


Features  OF  the  Civilization.  tj 

cial  warmth  of  affection  bred  of  kindness  and  service  on  the 
one  hand  and  service  on  the  other. 

Above  the  slaves  in  social  privileges  were  a  class  of  poor 
whites,  overseers,  small  mechanics,  and  the  posterity  of  in- 
dentured .servants  and  ex-convicts,  human  driftwood.  This 
was  a  small  class  and  from  the  stabler  and  more  virile  elements 
of  this  class  men  were  rising  to  the  higher  class.  Of  these 
poor  whites  relatively  few  could  vote  when  elections  were 
held,  on  account  of  the  property  qualifications  conditioning 
the  exercise  of  the  privilege  of  franchise. 

Above  these  were  the  planters,  sprung  of  good  stock,  and 
a  stock  that  had  risen  superior  to  all  the  difficulties  incident 
to  settling  a  new  country  surrounded  by  hostile  enemies. 
These  low  country  planters  were  the  posterity  of  Englishmen, 
Barbadians,  Nova  Belgians  (as  the  New  Yorkers  prior  to  their 
conquest  by  England  were  called).  Huguenots,  Irish,  Jamai- 
cans, Swiss  and  Germans.  There  were  intermingled  in  them 
the  aggressive  and  persistent  energy  of  the  Anglo-Saxon,  the 
shrewdness  of  the  Barbadian,  the  enduring  strength  of  the 
Dutchman,  and  the  gentle  manners,  the  gallantry,  the  frugality 
and  the  religious  tone  of  the  Huguenots. 

The  people  owning  lands  in  the  McPhersonville  region  were 
Screvens,  McPhersons,  Martins,  Hutsons,  DeSaussures,  Ful- 
lers, Elliotts,  Gregories,  Mackays,  Jenkinses,  Heywards,  Cuth- 
berts,  Maines,  Barnwells,  Storeys,  Stuarts,  Middletons,  Mar- 
ions, Giguilliots,  De  Vaux,  and  Videaus. 

Amongst  the  planters  there  developed  an  aristocracy  chiefly 
of  wealth  and  culture.  Tradition  has  done  somewhat  toward 
connecting  this  aristocracy  with  the  European  aristocracies, 
but  there  seems  to  have  been  little  connection,  as  a  matter  of 
fact  The  South  Carolina  aristocracy  developed  under  local 
conditions.  The  aristocracy  of  family  came  after  that  of 
wealth,  culture  and  public  service. 

Notwithstanding  the  differences  in  the  standings  of  differ- 
ent citizens  of  South  Carolina,  they  constituted  a  people  of 
beautiful  manners.  As  far  back  as  1770  William  Gerrard  de 
Brahan,  surveyor  for  the  Southern  District  of  North  America, 
wrote  of  South  Carolina:  "A  society  of  men  (which  in  religion, 
govenmient  and  negotiation  avoids  whatever  can  disturb  peace 
and  quietness)  will  always  grow  and  prosper;  so  will  this 
city  and  Province  whose  inhabitants  were  from  its  beginning 
renowned  for  Concord,  compleasance,  courteousness,  and  ten- 


28         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

demess  toward  each  other,  and  more  so  toward  foreigners, 
without  regard  or  respect  for  nation  or  religion." ' 

In  colonial  days  the  planters  had  affected  English  modes  of  life. 
^Their  households  continued  to  be  organized  on  the  English  model/' 
says  McCrady,  "except  in  so  far  as  it  was  modified  by  the  institution  of 
slavery,  which  modification  was  chiefly  in  the  number  of  servants.  In 
every  well  organized  planter's  household  there  were  three  high  posi- 
tions, the  objects  of  ambition  of  all  the  negroes  on  the  plantation. 
These  were  the  butler,  the  coachman,  and  the  patroon.  The  butler 
was  chief  of  all  about  the  mansion;  usually  the  oldest  negro  manser- 
vant on  the  premises,  his  head  was  often  white,  the  contrast  of  which 
with  his  dark  skin  was  striking,  and  added  much  to  the  dignity  which 
it  was  always  his  care  and  pride  to  maintain.  His  manner  was 
founded  on  that  of  the  best  of  the  society  in  which  his  master  moved, 
and  withal  he  possessed  much  greater  ease  than  is  usual  in  a  white 
man  occupying  the  same  position.  He  became  an  authority  upon  mat- 
ters of  table  etiquette,  and  was  quick  to  detect  the  slightest  breach  of 
it  He  considered  it  a  part  of  his  duty  to  advise  and  lecture  the 
young  people  of  the  family  upon  the  subject.  He  often  had  entire 
charge  of  the  pantry  and  storeroom  keys  and  was  usually  faithful  to 
his  trust.  He  was  somewhat  of  a  judge,  too,  of  the  cellar;  but  there 
are  stories  which  indicate  that  it  was  scarcely  safe  to  allow  him  free 
access  to  its  contents.  The  coachman,  to  the  boys  of  the  family,  at 
least,  was  scarcely  less  a  character  than  the  butler.  He  had  entire 
charge  of  the  stable  and  took  the  utmost  pride  in  the  horsemanship 
of  his  young  masters,  to  whom  he  had  given  the  first  lessons  in 
riding.  The  butler  might  be  the  greatest  man  at  home;  but  he  had 
never  the  glory  of  driving  the  family  coach  and  four  down  the  great 
"Path"  to  town  and  through  its  streets.  The  oldest  plantations  were 
upon  the  rivers;  a  water  front,  indeed,  and  a  landing  were  essential 
to  such  an  establishment,  for  it  must  have  the  periago  for  plantation 
purposes,  and  the  trim  sloop  and  large  cypress  canoes  for  the  master's 
use.  So,  beside  the  master  of  the  horse, — the  coachman, — ^there  was  a 
naval  officer,  too,  to  each  plantation  household,  and  he  was  the  pa- 
troon— a  name  no  doubt  brought  from  the  West  Indies.  The  patroon 
had  charge  of  the  boats,  and  the  winding  of  his  horn  upon  the  river 
told  the  family  of  the  master's  coming.  He,  too,  trained  the  boat 
hands  to  the  oar  and  taught  them  the  plaintive,  humorous,  happy 
catches  which  they  sang  as  they  bent  to  the  stroke,  and  for  which  the 
mother  of  the  family  often  strained  her  ears  to  catch  the  first  sound 
which  told  of  the  safe  return  of  her  dear  ones.  Each  of  these  head 
servants  had  his  underlings,  over  whom  he  lorded  it  in  imitation  of 

^Quoted  in  McCrady,  History  of  South  Carolina  under  the  Royal 
Government,  p.  394. 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  29 

his  master.  The  house  was  full,  too,  of  maids  and  seamstresses  of  all 
kinds,  who  kept  the  mistress  busy,  if  only  to  find  employment  for  so 
many  hands.  Outside  the  household  the  driver  was  the  great  man.  Under 
his  master's  rule  he  was  absolute.  He  was  too  great  a  man  to  work 
himself,  and  if  his  master  was  anybody — that  is,  if  the  plantation  was 
of  respectable  size,  with  a  decent  number  of  hands,  he  must  have  a 
horse  to  ride,  for  how  else  could  he  oversee  all  of  his  people?  The 
"driver"  was  the  executive  officer.  He  received  his  orders  from  his 
master,  and  he  carried  them  out.  He  did  all  the  punishing.  When 
punishment  was  necessary,  he  inflicted  it  under  his  master's  orders.  He 
was  responsible  for  the  administration  of  the  plantation.  A  plantation 
was  a  community  in  itself.  It  had  its  necessary  artisans.  There 
must  be  carpenters,  blacksmiths,  coopers,  tailors,  and  shoemakers,  for 
there  were  no  ready-made  shoes  and  clothes  in  those  days.  Then 
there  was  a  hospital  for  the  sick  and  a  house  for  the  children  while 
the  mothers  were  at  work  All  these  required  thorough  organization 
and  complete  system.  There  were  no  doubt  many  and  great  evils 
inseparable  from  the  institution  of  slavery,  but  these  were  reduced  to 
a  minimum  on  a  South  Carolina  plantation.  Generally  the  slaves  were 
contented  and  happy,  and  shared  in  the  prosperity  which  their  labors 

on  the  rice  fields  were  bringing  to  their  masters."* 

• 

The  early  planters  had,  in  some  cases,  modeled  their  homes 
after  London  houses,  or  English  country  seats ;  but  the  climate 
rendered  these  unsuitable.  They  began  very  soon  to  build 
houses  so  as  to  secure  ventilation  and  gallery  space.  Only  an 
occasional  planter  attempted  a  pretentious  residence.  Most  of 
them  were  content  with  rather  plain  story-and-a-half,  or  two- 
story  houses  of  any  convenient  style  of  architecture.  Perhaps 
the  commonest  starting  plan  was  that  with  a  room  on  either 
side  of  a  central  hallway  with  a  staircase  running  to  the  floor 
above.  Wings  and  lean-to  sheds  were  added  on  demand, 
convenience  and  the  breezes  permitting.  Other  buildings  about 
"the  big  house"  were  the  kitchen,  the  spinning  room,  the  iron- 
ing room,  the  wash  house,  the  dairy,  the  poultry  house,  the 
smoke  house  where  the  meats  were  cured  and  salted  down, 
sausages  hung,  and  candles  made  and  stored  away,  the  com 
house  where  the  distribution  of  "allowances"  was  weekly  made 
by  the  "driver"  under  the  master's  superintendence.  Beyond 
these  were  the  stables  and  the  carriage  houses,  and  beyond 
these,  the  negro  quarters,  each  cabin  having  assigned  to  it  a 

•  McCrady,  South  Carolina  under  the  Royal  Government,  pp.  515, 
S16,  517. 


30         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

plot  of  ground  on  which  the  family  might  raise  chickens,  or 
bees,  or  cultivate  a  garden  for  his  own  use.  Amongst  the 
cabins  was  a  house  where  the  children  were  "minded"  when 
their  mothers  went  to  work.  There  was  a  hospital  for  the 
sick  or  injured,  with  a  nurse  of  experience  whose  labors  and 
skill  the  "Ole  Miss"  usually  supplemented,  and  which  was  vis- 
ited by  the  doctor,  who  was  paid  so  much  per  year  for  looking 
after  the  health  of  the  whole  body  of  slaves.  Beyond  all  these, 
again,  were  the  barn  and  cotton-spinning  room,  die  seed  house, 
the  carpenter's  shop,  blacksmith's  forge,  and  butcher's  pen, 
where  black  mechanics  did  the  work,  sometimes  supervised 
and  assisted  by  a  journeyman  workman  who  had  been  em- 
ployed for  a  season.  Nearer  to  the  house  and  flanking  the 
lawn  front  and  back  were  the  flower  garden  and  vegetable  gar- 
den and  the  orchards.  The  master  of  a  large  plantation  had 
need  of  a  head  for  executive  ability  equal  to  those  of  our  cap- 
tains of  industry  to-day  ;  and  "Ole  Miss"  needed  an  equal 
ability  in  superintending  the  work  of  manufacturing  garments 
for  the  vast  household  from  crude  materials;  in  storing  these 
against  the  day  of  need;  in  looking  after  the  servants  in  the 
mansion,  keeping  them  up  to  their  work,  preventing  waste  and 
slovenliness ;  in  looking  after  the  health  of  the  whole  establish- 
ment,— ^binding,  this  minute,  the  lacerated  foot  of  a  great  man 
slave,  the  next  visiting  a  mother  that  had  just  borne  a  child, 
the  next  looking  after  some  old  fellow  witih  the  rheumatism, 
or  the  hypochondria;  in  rearing  her  own  children,  teaching 
them  not  only  the  ordinary  virtues  but  how  to  serve  such  com- 
munities as  she  served,  entertain  company  with  the  grace  and 
charm  of  manner  bred  of  a  self-sacrificing  spirit,  etc. 

The  plantations  in  this  region  were  early  found  to  be  un- 
healthful  for  white  people  during  the  summer  months.  In  the 
early  days  the  planters  had  resorted,  accordingly,  to  Charles- 
ton, to  Beaufort,  or  to  other  places  on  the  seashore,  during 
the  time  between  the  last  frost  of  spring  and  the  first  frost  of 
autumn.  But  in  the  generation  preceding  young  Palmer's 
day  it  had  been  found  that  residences  a  few  miles  back  from 
the  river  bottoms,  on  the  low  ridges  covered  by  the  long-leafed 
pines,  were  as  healthful  as  those  in  Charleston.  Thus  had  Wal- 
terboro  and  McPhersonville  and  other  summer  retreats  been 
established.  The  necessity  for  this  migration  from  the  plan- 
tation had  its  advantages  as  well  as  its  disadvantages.  If 
the  master's  absence  from  the  plantation  militated  against  his 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  31 

prosperity,  it  brought  him  into  close  contact  with  other  refined 
and  cultivated  men.  Nor  were  the  planting  interests  as  materi- 
ally interfered  with,  when  he  moved  to  the  summer  settlement, 
as  might  be  supposed,  for  ''one  of  the  conditions  of  a  site  of 
a  summer  settlement  was  that  it  should  be  in  reach  of  the  plan- 
tation, of  not  less  than  a  day's  journey  to  and  from,  allowing  a 
sufficient  time  for  a  supervision  of  the  place.  These  summer 
resorts  thus  became  social  centers,  collections  of  people  of 
wealth,  and  during  the  summer,  of  leisure ;  for  it  so  happened 
that  during  the  summer  there  was  little  to  be  done  on  the 
plantation." 

The  summer  homes  were  mere  camps,  small  one-story 
houses  with  plenty  of  porch  space;  as  to  size,  as  small  as  the 
necessities  of  the  family  and  guests  permitted.  They  were  gen- 
erally built  of  undressed  lumber.  A  great  continental  uni- 
versity cannot  be  judged  by  its  buildings:  these  summer  set- 
tlements were  wonderful  villages  notwithstanding,  the  homely 
dwellings;  the  formalities  of  polite  life  were  observed  with 
scrupulous  care. 

In  these  villages  would  be  found  one  or  two  churches,  a 
school  for  boys  and  a  school  for  girls,  taught  sometimes 
by  ministers  of  the  gospel,  sometimes  by  life-long  teachers, 
and  sometimes  by  young  graduates  of  colleges  and  universi- 
ties, who,  after  a  few  terms  of  teaching,  would  enter  on 
the  profession  of  law  or  medicine,  or  on  the  vocation  of  a 
minister.  The  school  would  be  kept  up  the  year  around, 
for  the  sake  of  the  ministers'  families  and  those  planters 
who  preferred  to  keep  their  children  in  the  village  during 
the  winter,  under  the  care  of  a  maiden  aunt,  or  some  other 
female  relative,  to  sending  them  to  a  distant  school,  or  pro- 
viding tutors  at  home,  or  making  some  other  shift  to  school 
them.  Sometimes  for  the  sake  of  its  advantages  the  planter 
would  keep  his  whole  family  in  the  village  throughout  the  year. 

The  South  Carolina  planter  was  very  particular  about  the 
education  of  his  family,  and  particularly  his  sons.  It  is  proba- 
bly true  that  they  had  as  high  an  average  of  education  as  any 
set  of  gentlemen  in  the  United  States.  The  planter  expected  to 
send  his  son  from  the  village  school  to  college  or  university. 
Hci  might  not  care  to  see  him  become  a  lawyer,  a  doctor,  or 
a  preacher,  but  he  hoped  very  earnestly  to  see  him  a  man  of 
generous  education,  and  ready,  after  a  little  special  training, 
for  any  of  the  professions.    A  fair  percentage  of  their  sons  be- 


32         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

came  graduates.  The  love  of  learning  in  the  days  of  young 
Palmer  was  no  new  thing.  While  the  conditions  in  South  Car- 
olina forbade  the  growth,  in  the  eighteenth  century,  of  the 
common  school  which  sprang  up  in  the  New  England  colonies, 
it  may  be  safely  said  that  in  no  province  was  there  more  pro- 
vision made  by  the  wealthy  for  the  education  of  the  poor.  In 
his  "Retrospect  of  the  Eighteenth  Century,"  Dr.  Samuel  Miller, 
of  Princeton,  expresses  the  belief  that  the  learned  languages, 
especially  the  Greek,  were  less  studied  in  the  Easteriji  States 
than  in  the  Southern  and  Middle  States.  "The  reason  he  as- 
signs  is  that  owing  to  the  superior  wealth  of  the  individuals 
in  the  latter  States,  more  of  their  sons  were  educated  in  Eu- 
rope, and  brought  home  with  them  a  more  accurate  knowledge 
of  the  classics."  "In  a  list  of  Americans  admitted  as  members 
of  the  Inns  of  Court  in  London  in  the  twenty-five  years  from 
1759  to  1786,  recently  published,  South  Carolina  contributes 
more  than  any  other  State.  Out  of  one  hundred  and  fourteen 
names  on  the  list,  there  are  forty-six  Carolinians,  twenty  Vir- 
ginians, fifteen  Marylanders,  three  Georgians,  and  one  North 
Carolinian,  making  eighty-five  Southerners,  three  fourths  of 
the  whole."  ®  The  love  of  learning  which  had  characterized 
her  people  in  colonial  days  remained  with  her  throughout  the 
first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century. 

The  contemporaries  of  young  Palmer  resorted  to  the  great 
colleges  of  New  England,  to  Princeton,  to  the  University  of 
Virginia,  the  University  of  Georgia,  or  to  the  College  of  South 
Carolina,  at  Columbia,  the  State's  own  excellent  institution. 
Their  sisters  received  excellent  private  teaching,  or  were  placed 
in  good  seminaries. 

The  common  love  of  the  South  Carolinians  for  reading  is 
probably  evinced  in  the  establishment  of  a  public  library  in 
1698 — "the  first  public  library"  it  is  believed,  "to  be  established 
in  America."  In  young  Palmer's  time  there  were  many  fine 
private  libraries  in  the  State,  and  many  more  families  possessed 
quite  respectable  libraries,  the  gradual  gatherings  of  genera- 
tions of  readers.  "Pope's  poems  and  Fielding's  novels  sat  side 
by  side  with  Newton's  'Cardiphonia.'  Neel's  'History  of  the 
Puritans'  elbowed  Scott's  romances." 

South  Carolinians,  like  true  Englishmen,  were  devoted  to 

•  McCrady,  History  of  South  Carolina  under  the  Royal  Government, 
pp.  475,  476. 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  33 

field  sports.  They  rode  from  their  infancy.  In  the  Chick- 
asaws  they  had  a  good  breed  of  horses,  which  was  greatly  im- 
proved by  crossing  with  English  blooded  horses.  Great  atten- 
tion was  paid  to  the  breeding  of  horses ;  and  they  were  trained 
to  two  gaits,  walking  and  cantering.  The  saddle  horses  were 
excellent  hunters,  and  would  seldom  hesitate  to  take  a  six- 
rail  fence  at  a  leap.  The  boys  and  girls  learned  to  ride  on 
tackies,  which,  though  small,  were  active,  enduring  and  easy 
gaited.  The  low  country  was  not  suited  for  fox-hunting,  it 
was  too  cut  up  with  creeks,  marshes  and  swamps.  The  great 
sport  was  deer  hunting.  The  clubs  met  early  in  the  day.  The 
hounds,  usually  in  charge  of  a  negro,  soon  found  the  scent 
and  with  full  cry  began  the  chase.  Their  baying  was  the  most 
exhilarating  music  to  the  ears  of  the  huntsman.  They  knew 
the  country  and  the  habits  of  the  deer  and  would  take  their 
stands  at  certain  places,  and  the  deer,  unless  brought  down 
at  the  earlier  stands  would  run  the  gauntlet  of  many  guns.^® 

To  the  boys  on  the  plantations  the  dearest  place  was  the 
"back-water,*'  the  partly  artificial  reservoir  for  storing  water 
wherewith  to  flood  the  rice  fields  at  stated  seasons.  Here 
was  his  best  chance  for  shooting  wild  ducks,  if  he  got  there 
just  at  day  dawn  on  some  cold,  frosty  morning.  From  its  dam's, 
too,  under  some  spreading  wild  mulberry  or  dogwood,  he 
could  fish  to  his  heart's  content,  and  if  the  plantation  were  one 
of  those  on  salt  water,  tie  could  fish,  or  crab,  or  get  raccoon 
oysters,  with  the  aid  of  a  bait. 

The  people  were  as  fond  of  indoor  amusements  as  of  field 
sports.  Hence  they  cultivated  music  and  the  knowledge  of 
games  of  various  sorts.  These  could  be  indulged  in  even  in 
the  summer  homes;  and  there  also,  if  there  was  less  for  the 
boy  in  the  way  of  outdoor  sports,  and  more  required  in  the 
way  of  dress  and  attendance  on  school,  he  could  at  least  en- 
joy the  cavalcades,  "in  which  there  was  just  as  much  cere- 
mony in  inviting  a  partner  for  the  ride  and  sticking  faith- 
fully to  her  side,  as  if  it  had  been  a  dance  in  which  the  same 
couple  were  partners  from  first  to  last." 

On  these  cavalcades,  on  which  many  matches  are  said  to 
have  been  made,  and  in  frequent  parties  at  the  different 
homes  the  young  people  found  their  chief  opportunities  for 
intercourse.    At  the  parties,  which  were  regular  affairs,  there 


10 


cf.  McCrady,  Ibid.,  pp.  517,  ff. 


34         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

was  not  only  the  means  of  gratifying  the  taste  for  amusement 
but  that  of  the  palate,  though  the  fare  in  the  stmimer  village 
could  never  quite  compare  with  that  in  the  plantation  house. 
To  illustrate  from  the  substantial  of  the  feast:  in  the  summer 
settlement  wheat  waffles,  rice  waffles,  wheat  loaf-bread,  rice 
loaf-bread,  biscuits,  johnny  cakes,  muffins,  pancakes,  domestic 
fowls,  beef,  and  mutton,  vegetables  in  season,  etc.,  could  be 
commanded;  but  at  the  plantation  in  the  winter,  in  addition 
to  all  these,  wild  turkey,  venison,  wild  duck  and  the  fruit  of  the 
sea,  for  if  the  master  or  a  son  were  not  good  with  the  gun  and 
rod,  there  was  always  a  crack  shot  on  the  plantation  freely 
supplied  with  gun  and  ammunition  in  order  that  his  master's 
table  might  be  improved,  and  more  than  one  successful  fisher- 
man. The  people  generally  lived  plentifully  and  well.  Theirs 
was  in  no  sense  a  somber  life. 

Political  excitement  has  been  a  frequent  feature  of  South 
Carolina.  The  excitement  ran  high  in  young  Palmer's  day. 
South  Carolina,  along  with  a  number  of  other  States,  held  that 
the  power  to  levy  duties  on  imports,  not  with  a  view  to  reve- 
nue, but  to  protect  and  aid  particular  classes,  was  not  delegated 
to  Congress.  An  odious,  because  discriminating,  tariff  had 
been  borne  while  it  was  necessary  in  order  to  the  payment  of 
of  the  public  debt.  But  when  the  debt  had  been  paid  and  a 
large  surplus  was  accumulating  in  the  national  treasury,  the 
State  demanded  that  the  tariff  should  l^e  conformed  to  the  need 
for  revenue.  The  demand  was  refused,  the  robbery  wrought 
by  the  protective  tariff  continued,  and  continued  to  exasperate 
the  South.  The  great  leaders  in  South  Carolina,  Calhoun, 
Haynes,  McDuffie  and  others,  had  recourse  to  a  measure  justi- 
fiable only  on  the  ground  that  it  was  a  warning  that  secession 
would  follow  it,  if  it  proved  ineffective.  "She  interposed  her 
prerogative  as  a  sovereign  State,  to  judge,  in  the  last  resort, 
in  all  questions  affecting  her  own  rights,  restraining  the  gen- 
eral govenmient  from  collecting  this  revenue  within  her  lim- 
its.' It  was  not  ineffective.  Congress  passed  the  "Force  Bill," 
clothing  the  President  with  the  power  necessary  to  enforce  the 
collection,  and  for  this  purpose  putting  at  his  disposal  all  the 
land  and  naval  forces.  But  for  some  such  instrumentality  as 
that  of  Mr.  Qay,  in  his  famous  Compromise  Act,  which  yielded 
the  principle  of  protection  while  providing  "a  gradual  reduc- 
tion of  duties,  and  that  at  the  expiration  of  ten  years,  twenty 
per  cent,  ad  valorem  should  be  established  as  the  uniform 


Features  of  the  Civilization.  35 

rate/'  there  had  been  a  collision.  While  some  strong  men  op- 
posed it,  the  prevailing  sentiment  of  the  people  of  the  State  de- 
manded Nullification ;  and  the  low  country,  with  the  exception 
of  a  party  in  Charleston  under  the  lead  of  Mr.  Petigru,  was  al- 
most unanimously  in  favor  of  Nullification  and  profoundly 
convinced  of  the  right  of  secession.  As  time  wore  on  they 
conceived  that  secession  was  a  duty. 

We  shall  have  occasion  to  note  in  the  sequel  that  young 
Palmer  was,  in  the  days  of  his  youth,  drinking  in  the  views 
of  the  great  political  thinkers  of  the  State. 

The  moral  and  religious  tone  of  this  region  of  the  low  coun- 
try was  excellent  during  these  decades.  Horse-racing,  gam- 
bling and  hard  drinking  had  prevailed  to  a  considerable  ex- 
tent in  early  colonial  times.  Nor  had  these  habits  been  up- 
rooted by  the  preaching  of  Whitefield,  though  they  had  been 
checked.  But  providences  connected  with  the  Revolutionary 
War,  the  work  of  evangelical  ministers  of  all  denominations 
and  particularly  the  revivals  under  the  Rev.  Daniel  Baker 
about  183 1,  did  much  to  lift  up  the  standard  of  morality  and 
religion.  The  communities  in  which  he  grew  up  were  Sab- 
bath-observing, condemned  worldly  amusements,  often  thought 
to  be  entirely  compatible  with  the  profession  of  Christianity, 
and  in  general  showed  a  sympathy  with  a  mildly  Puritan  mode 
of  life. 

With  this  sketch  of  the  environment  into  which  our  sub- 
ject was  bom  and  in  the  midst  of  which  he  developed  his 
God-given  powers,  we  pass  to  the  exhibition  of  his  early  life. 


CHAPTER  III. 

BOYHOOD  AND  EARLY  YOUTH. 
(1818-1832.) 

Summary  of  his  Inherited  Powers,  and  of  the  Forces  of  his  En- 
vntONMENT. — Charleston  the  Place  of  his  Birth. — The  History 
OF  Mr.  Edward  Palmer's  Family,  1821-1824,  Sketched. — Rev. 
Edward  Palmer's  Family  at  Dorchester. — At  Walterboro. — 
"Ben  Palmer"  as  a  Schoolboy  at  Walterboro. — ^The  Palmer 
Family  at  McPhersonville. 

THE  25th  day  of  January,  1818,  in  the  home  of  his  parents, 
Edward  and  Sarah  Bunce  Palmer,  on  Beaufain  Street, 
Charleston,  S.  C,  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer  was  born.  The 
foregoing  chapters  have  made  it  clear  that  he  was  sprung  of 
excellent  stock,  and  born  into  the  midst  of  a  civilization  at 
once  unique,  commanding  and  noble.  They  have  made  it  clear 
that  it  is  only  fair  to  look  to  him  to  manifest  the  sentiment  of 
devotion  to  duty  for  which  the  early  and  honest  Puritan  was  so 
remarkable;  to  disclose  a  strong  native  bent  toward  culture; 
to  discover  vigor  of  practical  as  well  as  intellectual  character; 
to  display  sweetness  of  disposition  along  with  virile  motives  of 
conduct,  and  strength  of  determination;  to  reveal  in  himself 
capacity  for  breadth  of  view,  generosity  in  estimating  sympa- 
thetically, so  far  as  truth  allows,  diverse  systems  of  philoso- 
phy and  faith,  while  at  the  same  time  holding,  on  his  own  part, 
a  very  definite  system  of  philosophy  and  faith ;  and  to  develop 
somewhat  of  John  Calvin's  power  to  entertain  Christian 
friendship  with  those  between  whom  and  himself  there  may  lie 
some  great  differences  as  to  things  not  absolutely  essential. 
These  chapters  have  also  made  it  clear  that  we  should  natu- 
rally expect  civil  and  social  sentiments  colored  by  the  ideals  in 
vogue,  not  in  Ohio,  or  in  New  England,  or  in  some  European 
country ;  but  in  the  State  of  his  nativity  and  of  his  moulding. 
Born  and  brought  up  in  some  other  country,  he  had  been 
somewhat  otherwise. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  he  appears  to  have  derived  from  his 
mother,  and  brought  into  the  world  at  his  birth,  a  penetrating, 
intense,  and  powerful  intellect  and  capacities  for  the  formation 


Boyhood  and  Early  Youth.  37 

of  a  character  equal  to  his  intellect  in  its  dignity,  intensity, 
persistence  and  power.  From  his  father  he  seems  to  have  re- 
ceived a  sense  of  personal  digfnity,  the  tendency  to  constant 
courtesy,  the  spirit  of  broad  charity,  and  sound  common  sense. 
From  the  Morgans  came  his  aggressiveness  and  his  strong 
but  tempered  self  reliance. 

Thus  he  begins  life,  with  a  certain  seriousness  and  earnest- 
ness contributed  by  the  Palmer  blood,  which  "was  warranted 
to  go  a  long  way  and  keep  clean  and  sweet  to  the  end,"  with 
the  self-reliant  aggressiveness  of  the  Morgans,  and  the  in- 
tensity, buoyancy  and  brilliancy  of  his  attracted  and  attractive 
mother,  Sarah  Bunce,  who  not  only  put  her  impress  upon  him 
in  bearing  him,  but  as  we  shall  see,  exerted  the  chief  moulding 
influence  upon  him  during  his  youth. 

The  impress  of  his  mother  State  upon  him  has  already  been 
affirmed,  and  certain  particulars  of  it  pointed  out.  In  his 
•political  views,  in  his  bearing  in  society,  in  his  breadth  of 
sympathies,  in  his  regard  for  the  family  and  the  home,  he  was 
a  South  Carolinian  of  the  highest  type.  How  large  and  full 
and  clear  was  the  impress  of  all  that  was  noble  in  his  envi- 
ronment upon  him,  will  appear  more  fully  in  the  sequel.  For 
the  present  it  will  suffice  to  have  further  said:  It  was  in- 
evitable that  a  youth  so  impressible  and  so  thoughtful  should 
be  affected  by  his  civil  and  social  surroundings.  He  was  under 
a  necessity  of  nature  to  note  and  approve,  or  disapprove,  of 
that  civilization,  to  condemn  it  in  whole,  or  in  part,  or  to  take 
it  to  his  heart.  He  was  to  be  affected  by  all  he  met,  in  some 
way  or  in  another,  and  he  was  to  respond  actively  to  every 
affection.    He  was  not  to  vegetate ;  he  was  to  live. 

The  city  in  which  Benjamin  Morgan  Palmer  was  born  was  a 
beautiful  and  cultured  city.  The  Charlestonese  prided  them- 
selves on  the  fact  that  their  pronunciation  of  English  was 
equaled  on  this  side  of  the  Atlantic  only  in  the  city  of  Bos- 
ton, Mass.  It  was  a  place  of  breadth  of  sympathies,  too. 
Neither  in  the  State  nor  in  this  city,  which  for  a  long  time 
had  been  the  colony  of  South  Carolina,  had  there  ever  been 
any  considerable  prejudice  against  any  man  on  account  of 
his  nationality  or  religion.  The  population,  while  coming 
from  many  European,  West  Indian,  and  other  colonial  sources, 
and  containing  some  unworthy  elements,  was  derived  for  the 
most  part,  from  the  best  of  the  European  peoples, — ^the  Eng- 
lish, Scotch,  Scotch-Irish,  Huguenots,  Dutch  from  New  York, 


38         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

and  Germans  from  the  Palatinate.  These  had  given  character 
to  the  city.  It  was  something  to  be  born  in  such  a  city,  not- 
withstanding that  young  Palmer  should  be  carried  thence  at 
about  the  age  of  six.  As  the  home  of  his  parents  prior  to  his 
birth  and  during  his  early  years  it  would  not  be  without  its 
influence  upon  himself. 

It  has  been  seen  that  in  1821,  his  father,  under  the  con- 
viction that  he  ought  to  give  himself  to  the  Gospel  ministry, 
went  to  Andover,  Mass.,  in  order  to  furnish  himself  for  that 
form  of  service.  This  step  devolved  upon  Mrs.  Palmer  the 
care  of  four  small  children,  the  youngest  and  puniest  of 
whom  was  Benjamin  Morgan.  It  was  a  trying  time  for 
both  parents.  Andover  was  a  long  way  from  Charleston  in 
those  days.  Any,  or  all  of  his  family  might  sicken  and  die 
before  the  father  could  be  informed  of  their  illness.  Mr. 
Palmer  as  a  successful  teacher,  had  been  supporting  his  family 
in  entire  comfort.  Now  the  mother  would  have  to  be  bread 
winner  for  the  little  ones.  On  taking  leave  of  his  children, 
Mr.  Palmer  is  reported  to  have  long  held  the  frail  little  Ben- 
jamin in  his  arms,  and  to  have  said,  "My  poor  little  Benny,  I 
suppose  I  shall  never  see  you  again  in  this  world.  You  will 
hardly  live  to  pass  your  fifth  year."  Mrs.  Palmer  and  her  sis- 
ter, Mrs.  Axson,  took  a  large  house  in  the  southern  part  of 
Charleston,  perhaps  on  Lamball  street ;  and  there  kept  a  small 
boarding  school  during  the  first  two  years  of  Mr.  Palmer's 
sojourn  in  Andover.  During  this  period  Mrs.  Palmer  seems 
to  have  kept  a  few  sturdy  and  reputable  young  men  as  board- 
ers also.  During  1822  to  1823,  the  hand  of  God  was  sore  upon 
the  little  family  thus  orphaned  of  a  father's  care.  Within  a 
week  two  fair  children  were  smitten  and  died,  the  bright, 
strong,  resourceful  young  mother,  crushed  in  heart,  suffered 
only  less  than  her  far-away  husband,  who,  bereft  of  his  chil- 
dren, felt  that  he  could  not  assuage  the  grief  of  the  wife  and 
mother  as  if  at  her  side.  He  resolved  that  the  three  living  mem- 
bers of  his  family  should  at  once  come  to  Andover  to  be  with 
him  during  the  remainder  of  his  period  of  study  there. 

Accordingly  they  repaired  to  Andover  and  spent  there  the 
year  1823  to  1824.  There  the  family  kept  house;  and  Mrs. 
Palmer  evinced  both  her  energy,  her  ability,  and  her  sense  of 
the  responsibilities  that  would  devolve  upon  her  as  a  minis- 
ter's wife  by  reading  through  Locke's  "Essay  on  the  Human 
Understanding,"  and  other  useful  books.    She  tried  to  improve 


Boyhood  and  Early   Youth.  39 

the  mind  of  her  oldest  child,  Sophronia  also,  by  having  her 
read  portions  of  these  books,  including  Locke's.  The  child 
was  only  nine  and  a  half  years  old ;  but  the  mother  secured  the 
service  without  making  it  an  irksome  labor  to  the  little  girl. 
She  taught  her  child  to  think  that  she  could  thus  help  her 
mother,  who  would  listen  to  the  reading  and  at  the  same  time 
perform  some  domestic  labor. 

It  is  worth  while  to  notice  again  this  young  matron,  slen- 
der, and  graceful  in  movement,  with  a  rather  lofty  and  beau- 
tifully moulded  forehead,  penetrating  but  sweet  steel  blue  eyes, 
a  well  shaped  nose,  a  flexible  mouth  of  sufficiently  generous 
proportions,  a  strong  but  not  a  stubborn  lower  face,  and  a  high 
purposefulness  in  all  her  carriage.  She  understands  and  sym- 
pathizes with  all  her  children  and  secures  their  obedience  with 
tactfulness  and  ease.  The  mothering  of  her  children,  their 
noblest  development,  she  makes  her  high  and  holy  business. 

As  for  young  Benjamin,  he  is  disporting  himself  much  as 
other  children  between  five  and  six.  Soon  after  their  reaching 
Andover,  and  while  the  family  was,  for,  about  a  week,  in  a 
boarding  house,  he  is  said  indeed,  to  have  distinguished  him- 
self by  rushing  one  morning  into  the  kitchen  and  demanding 
for  his  breakfast  some  South  Carolina  hominy  instead  of  the 
breakfast  dishes  common  in  New  England  at  the  time.  He 
loved  hoop,  ball,  and  kite;  and  in  the  winter  to  play  in  the 
snow  with  his  sister  Sophronia,  or  with  her  to  slide  on  the  ice. 
They  had  many  experiences  which  it  delighted  them  greatly  to 
recall  in  later  times:  the  run  of  the  orchards  of  considerate 
neighbors,  the  roasting  of  apples  on  the  winter  nights.  Par- 
ticularly they  never  forgot  the  beautiful  wild  moss  roses 
which  the  mother  loved  so  well,  and  which  they  would  gather 
for  her. 

We  are  not  informed  of  the  state  of  advancement  in  learn- 
ing at  which  this  little  boy  had  arrived  on  leaving  New  Eng- 
land; but  if  safe  inference  may  be  made  from  the  fact  that 
his  sister  Sophronia  was  able  to  read  the  New  Testament  at 
the  age  of  four;  and  from  the  fact  that  at  the  age  of  four- 
teen he  himself  was  well  prepared  for  college,  he  had  prob- 
ably made  considerable  advancement  in  the  rudimentary  stud- 
ies for  young  children.  The  same  thing  may  be  argued  from 
the  intense  concern  of  his  mother  for  her  children's  progress; 
and  from  his  devotion  to  her.  It  is  said  that  he  became  her 
constant  companion;  and  that  he  would  drop  his  play  at  any 


40         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

time  to  go  to  hear  her  read  or  talk,  or  a  little  later,  to  read 
to  her. 

Returning  to  South  Carolina  in  1824,  the  Rev.  Edward 
Palmer  and  his  family  lived  for  three  years  at  Dorchester, 
about  eighteen  miles  from  Qiarleston,  in  the  district  of  Col- 
leton. Dorchester,  now  a  decadent  village,  is  the  principal 
scene  of  the  romantic  tale  of  the  "Partisan,"  by  Simms.  In 
the  very  heart  of  the  district  ennobled  by  so  many  gallant 
episodes  of  the  struggle  for  independence  of  Great  Britain, 
it  was  an  ideal  place  for  the  development  of  the  historical 
imagination  as  well  as  of  the  more  fundamental  tastes  for 
a  knowledge  of  the  past.  Nor  could  his  gifted  mother  fail 
to  avail  herself  of  such  an  occasion.  Up  to  their  leaving 
Dorchester  she  seems  to  have  been  almost  his  only  teacher. 
In  addition  to  teaching  him  the  rudimental  learning  usually 
given  boys  of  his  age,  she  read  with  him  the  whole  of  Shakes- 
peare's plays,  MiIton*s  "Paradise  Lost,"  and  Scott's  novels, 
thus  helping  him  to  that  luxuriance,  beauty  and  precision  of 
style  for  which  his  own  pen  was  to  be  remarkable.  Moreover, 
she  grounded  him  deeply  in  the  noblest  principles  of  character 
and  conduct.  She,  more  than  any  one  else,  gave  the  primal 
shaping  to  a  character  which  was  to  develop  into  unusual 
splendor  and  to  make  him  one  of  the  greatest  figures  of  his 
century. 

Two  or  three  incidents  related  of  his  childhood,  and  per- 
haps to  be  assigned  to  the  period  during  which  the  family 
was  living  at  Dorchester,  would  seem  to  indicate  that  his 
mother  had  her  hands  full  in  the  effort  to  bring  him  up  aright. 
He  was  undoubtedly  a  child  of  strong  will  and  of  wilfullness 
as  well.  Of  one  of  these  incidents  he  carried  to  the  day  of  his 
death  a  memorial.  His  father  had  allowed  his  faithful  horse 
to  graze  on  the  little  lawn  around  the  cottage  in  which  he 
was  living.  He  had  warned  his  son  Benjamin  to  keep  away 
from  the  animal,  but  the  imp  of  mischief  was  incarnated  in 
him ;  he  delighted  in  creeping  up  to  the  animal  and  startling 
him  with  a  smart  cut,  or  other  means,  into  a  run.  Unfortu- 
nately, on  one  occasion  he  got  too  near,  the  horse  landed  a  kick 
on  the  face  of  his  tormentor,  bruised  and  cut  his  lips  not  a 
little,  and  slit  one  side  of  a  nostril  to  such  an  extent  that  he 
bore  the  marks,  slightly  disfiguring  that  side  of  his  face,  to 
the  day  of  his  death. 

We  are  told  again,  that  the  spirit  of  mischief  taking  pos- 


Boyhood  and  Early  Youth.  41 

session  of  him  one  morning  during  family  prayers,  he  slipped 
out  of  the  house  and  amused  himself  by  chasing  a  cat  around 
the  yard.  In  requital  he  received  a  sound  flogging  from  his 
exacting  father.  The  most  significant  story  of  the  period, 
however,  is  the  following:  A  paternal  measure,  an  account  of 
which  has  not  been  preserved,  had  provoked  the  boy's  resent- 
ment Now  his  father  was  a  man  of  great  neatness  and  order 
about  his  writing  as  about  all  his  work.  Valuable  belongings 
on  his  writing  table  were  a  neat  pen-knife  for  sharpening  his 
quill  pens,  scissors,  paper  cutter,  etc.  It  seems  that  Mr. 
Palmer  valued  very  particularly  these  articles.  To  "pay"  his 
father  for  the  paternal  measure  just  referred  to,  Benjamin 
took  them  and  deposited  them  in  a  brook  hard  by.  Pretty  soon 
Mr.  Palmer  missed  them,  made  a  search,  questioned  his  house- 
hold, and  amongst  the  rest  Benjamin,  who  evaded  the  question 
for  a  time  and  then  boldly  "lied"  about  the  matter,  declaring 
that  he  was  in  no  wise  chargeable  with  their  misplacement. 
He  joined  with  apparent  sedulousness  in  the  hunt  for  them. 
He  kept  up  the  pretense  for  several  days.  He  had  chosen 
to  avenge  himself  on  his  father  and  it  was  hard  for  him  to  give 
over.  But  the  burden  was  too  heavy  for  so  ingenuous  a  nature. 
It  was  his  "first  lie,"  or  series  of  lies,  for  in  his  old  days  he 
said,  "I  lied  straight  through  for  a  week."  He  was  all  the 
while  most  miserable.  Child  though  he  was,  appetite  and  sleep 
were  going  from  him.  At  the  end  of  the  week  he  rushed  one 
morning  into  the  house,  crying,  "Where  is  father?"  Receiv- 
ing the  reply,  "He  is  in  his  study,  you  must  not  interrupt  him," 
he  exclaimed,  "I  cannot  help  it,  I  must  interrupt  him;"  and 
rushing  in,  he  confessed  the  whole  matter.  When  nearing 
eighty  he  could  say  that  since  that  day  he  did  not  know  that 
he  had  ever  been  guilty  of  a  lie.  The  loathsomeness  of  lying 
was  to  his  nature  so  appalling  that  the  one  experience  was  too 
much. 

From  Dorchester,  with  its  inspiring  traditions  and  its  "grand 
old  trees,"  Mr.  Palmer  removed  with  his  family  to  Walter- 
boro  in  the  year  1827.  This  place  had  been  in  the  beginning, 
a  summering  resort.  The  planters  from  about  Old  Bethel 
Qiurch  on  the  Edisto,  and  from  the  Salkehatchie,  had  found 
that  there,  under  the  long-leafed  pine,  they  could  pass  the  sum- 
mer in  health.  Their  houses  were  plain  but  comfortable  one- 
story  cottages;  and  their  houses  had  given  character  to  the 
buildings  that  were  subsequently  erected  for  more  permanent 


42         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

occupancy.  We  may  therefore  imagine  the  Palmers  moving 
into  a  "small  one-story  cottage,"  quite  low  to  the  ground,  for 
their  home  in  Walterboro.  While  the  dwellings  were  simple, 
the  place  was  one  of  refinement  and  culture.  It  was  the  region 
of  die  Glovers,  the  Hendersons,  the  Perrys,  the  Oswalds,  the 
Dents,  the  Linings,  the  Erasers,  the  Parkers,  the  Fishburnes, 
the  Riverses,  the  Witsells,  and  others  of  good  name  in  South 
Carolina.  It  seems  to  have  had  its  fair  proportion  of  pro- 
fessional gentlemen,  for  in  addition  to  the  ministers  of  religion 
and  the  doctors  of  physic,  tradition  tells  of  the  lawyers  :  J.  D. 
Edwards,  D.  S.  Henderson,  J.  B.  Perry,  Solicitor  of  the  Cir- 
cuit and  an  eminent  legal  light,  M.  E.  Carr,  O.  P.  Williams 
and  Carloss  Tracy. 

In  this  place  the  Rev.  Edward  Palmer  and  his  family  con- 
tinued to  live,  on  this  occasion,  till  about  1832.  Mr.  Palmer 
soon  became  universally  and  intensely  beloved.  He  was  to  re- 
turn to  this  pastorate  again  in  1844,  there  to  pass  the  remain- 
der of  his  ministerial  life,  in  the  greatest  honor  and  affection. 
The  following  simple  incident,  the  date  of  which  has  not  been 
precisely  fixed,  indicates  somewhat  of  the  regard  in  which  he 
was  held :  Some  one  hazarded  a  criticism  of  Mr.  Palmer  one 
day,  in  the  presence  of  an  aged  parishioner,  Mrs.  Witsell. 
Whereupon  she  broke  into  ejaculatory  thanksgiving  to  God, 
explaining  that  but  for  the  criticism  Mr.  Palmer  would  soon 
have  died,  since  God  in  his  holy  Word,  had  pronounced  woe 
unto  him  of  whom  no  man  spake  evil.  Mrs.  Palmer,  in  some 
respects  more  admired,  was  only  less  beloved  because  by  reason 
of  her  woman's  sphere  she  was  less  widely  known.  It  can 
be  said  that  she  made  the  young  people  of  the  town,  and  es- 
pecially the  girls  and  young  women  of  her  husband's  flock, 
her  own.  Naturally  under  such  circumstances,  in  this  hospita- 
ble region,  every  door  was  open  to  their  children,  and  amongst 
the  rest  to  Benjamin  Morgan.  The  son  of  the  beloved  and 
honored  Christian  minister  was  welcome  to  the  most  intimate 
intercourse  with  the  sons  of  gentlemen  of  the  highest  station, 
and  received  at  the  hands  of  these  gentlemen  themselves  every 
proper  consideration.  As  during  these  years  at  Walterboro, 
young  Palmer  was  passing  from  the  age  of  boyhood  to  youth, 
was  waking  to  a  manlier  life,  we  must  think  of  him  as  ab- 
sorbing much  from  the  .society  around  him.  There  are  not 
wanting  indications  that  it  was  in  these  years  that  he  made  the 
principles  of  South  Carolina  civilization  tentatively  his  own. 


Boyhood  and  Early   Youth.  43 

The  country  had  been  wrought  up  to  the  nullification  meas- 
ures. The  South  Carolina  principles  were  at  stake.  They  and 
the  oppressive  and  "unrighteous  tariff"  were  the  staples  of 
conversation.  We,  indeed,  are  not  told  of  his  study  of  these 
principles,  but  by  1833  he  is  found  defending  them  bravely. 
He  who  knows  our  subject  feels  safe  in  saying  that  he  had 
given  the  matter  study  before  taking  his  stand  in  regard  to  it. 

These  Walterboro  years  were  important  not  only  because 
of  the  stimulus  to  the  formation  of  his  views  on  civil  mat- 
ters, but  because  he  then  came,  for  the  first  time,  under 
other  teachers  than  his  parents.  The  Hon.  Daniel  J.  Pope,  of 
Columbia,  S.  C,  is  our  authority  for  the  following  ac- 
count of  the  most  influential  teacher  under  whose  influence 
"Ben  Palmer  came  in  this  period :"  The  Rev.  J.  B.  Van  Dyck 
was  not  a  great  scholar.  He  was  a  rather  poor  mathematician  ; 
a  good  Latin  scholar,  but  not  a  first-class  Greek  scholar.  He 
knew  enough  to  prepare  men  well  for  college.  While  not  a 
great  scholar  he  was  a  great  teacher,  he  could  tell  what  he 
knew  so  as  to  make  a  boy  understand  it.  He  could,  and  did, 
excite  the  ambition  of  his  boys.  Some  men  have  great  learn- 
ing and  no  power  to  impart  it.  Others  have  no  great  learning 
but  power  to  impart  all  they  have,  and  to  stimulate  their  more 
gifted  pupils  to  attainments  beyond  the  reach  of  their  own 
achievements.  Mr.  Van  Dyck  belonged  to  the  latter  class. 
Without  any  extraordinary  learning,  he  had  wonderful  power 
of  impartation.  In  addition  to  the  ordinary  training  of  the 
schoolroom,  Mr.  Van  Dyck  established  a  debating  society 
into  which  he  introduced  the  boys.  He  sometimes  presided. 
"While  in  other  schools  the  boys  were  playing,  in  his  school 
they  were  learning  to  debate  and  to  speak." 

With  Mr.  Pope,  Mr.  James  Glover,  of  Walterboro,  also, 
about  eighty  years  of  age,  agrees  as  to  most  of  the  foregoing 
account  of  Mr.  Van  Dyck.  He  adds  that  Mr.  Van  Dyck  was 
remarkable  as  a  disciplinarian,  being  rigid  to  the  point  of  se- 
verity. 

These  old  gentlemen  unite  in  aiHrming  that  "Ben  Palmer" 
was  "a  good  boy,"  "played  little,"  and  "studied  hard,"  "a  model 
boy."  Mr.  Pope,  who  entered  the  school  about  the  time  young 
Palmer  left,  says,  that  "Palmer  stood  at  the  very  head  of  this 
school,  had  learned  all  to  be  taught  there  by  the  time  he  was 
fourteen,  and  went  at  that  age  "to  Amherst  thoroughly  pre- 
pared."   Tradition  also  says  that  Ben  Palmer  was  the  prince 


44         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  debaters  and  speakers  in  that  little  debating  society  organ- 
ized by  Mr.  Van  Dyck.  Amongst  his  schoolmates  were  Paul 
A.  M.  Williams,  Laurence  Fishburne,  Cross-keys  Oswald,  Ben- 
jamin Whaley,  and  Dr.  John  O.  Gilmer. 

The  venerable  Mr.  E.  E.  Bellinger,  Episcopal  minister  in 
Walterboro,  tells  (in  1904)  a  story  of  young  Palmer's  school- 
days which  if  it  be  authentic,  betrays  on  the  part  of  our  sub- 
ject wonderful  self-possession.  According  to  Mr.  Bellinger, 
Ben  Palmer  had  gotten  into  a  fight  with  a  larger  boy  of  savage 
temper,  was  down,  and  the  toy  with  a  knife  drawn  was  threat- 
ening to  take  his  life.  Lying  on  the  ground  Palmer  looked  his 
antagonist  in  the  face  and  saw  his  savagery  rampant — ^the 
fellow  was  afterwards  driven  out  of  his  State  on  account  of 
murder, — and  said  to  him,  "Blank,  I  have  but  one  dollar  in 
the  world  but  if  you  will  spare  my  life  I  will  give  it  to  you." 
The  savage  said,  "That  is  not  enough,  Ben.  You  must  do 
more.  You  have  no  trouble  in  reading  Greek  and  Latin ;  I  do, 
I  can  hardly  read  at  all.  You  must  read  my  language  lessons 
from  now  till  the  end  of  the  term."  The  agreement  was  made, 
and  kept. 

In  the  autumn  of  1831  the  Rev.  Edward  Palmer  had  been 
induced  to  accept  a  call  from  a  Presbyterian  church  at  Stony 
Creek,  in  Beaufort  District  As  he  did  not  move  his  family 
until  about  a  year  had  passed,  his  son  had  enjoyed  the  advan- 
tages of  the  Walterboro  Academy  during  that  year  without 
separation  from  his  father's  family. 

In  the  summer  of  1832,  in  the  fifteenth  year  of  his  age, 
he  starts  to  a  Northern  college.  His  experiences  there,  and 
in  the  new  home  to  which  his  father  had  removed  prior  to 
young  Palmer's  return  "in  disgrace,"  and  his  subsequent  ex- 
periences in  a  Southern  university  are  to  be  sketched  in  the 
ensuing  chapter. 


CHAPTER  IV. 

DAYS  OF  HIS  COLLEGE  TRAINING. 

(1832-1838.) 

Goes  to  Amherst  College,  in  Massachusetts,  1832. — His  Career 
These  Till  the  Spring  of  1834. — His  Return  to  South  Caro- 
lina.— ^The  Home  of  his  Father's  Family  at  this  Time. — His 
Reception  by  his  Parents. — Engaged  in  Teaching,  1834- 1836. — 
Conversion  in  1836,  and  Union  with  the  Church  in  Mc- 
Phersonville. — ^Enters  University  of  Georgia,  January,  1837. — 
Career  in  that  University  till  August,  1838. — ^A  Question  to 
BE  Solved. 

AT  the  age  of  fourteen  "Ben  Palmer"  struck  the  ordinary 
observer  as  undersized;  and  as  probably  a  youth  of  no 
special  parts.  The  man  of  close  observation  noted  many  things 
in  the  youngster,  however,  which  attracted  attention.  Under- 
sized he  certainly  was;  but  his  movements  were  graceful  as 
those  of  a  young  leopard.  From  the  toes  of  his  pretty  little 
feet  to  the  top  of  his  head  he  was  lithe,  supple,  elastic,  and 
apparently  perfectly  healthful.  His  hands  seemed  a  little  less 
delicately  formed  than  his  feet,  but  were  small  for  a  person 
of  his  size.  If  he  wanted  a  trifle  in  breadth  across  the  shoul- 
ders, he  enjoyed  a  compensation  for  that  defect  in  the  depth 
of  his  chest.  In  his  face  there  were  warring  elements.  He 
was  very  dark,  and  had  something  about  his  lips  (due  in  part 
it  may  be  to  the  kick  received  from  his  father's  horse),  which 
suggested  a  highly  sensitive  and  sensuous  nature.  But  there 
was  indomitable  strength  of  will  written  on  his  lower  jaw, 
and  around  that  same  homely  mouth.  He  had  a  well-shaped 
but  not  large  head.  His  nose  was  a  good  one  on  one  side, 
disfigured  slightly  by  the  scar  left  by  the  hoof  of  the  horse 
on  the  other.  In  the  eyes  were  features  that  redeemed  and 
transfigured  the  face.  They  always  sparkled  and  changed  with 
the  changing  thoughts  and  feelings  by  which  he  was  possessed ; 
and  when  he  spoke  his  voice  revealed  another  great  attraction. 
It  was  a  wonderful  instrument :  it  had  in  it  music  and  laughter, 
mourning  and  tears,  the  thunders  of  war,  and  the  songs  of 
peace.  If  he  spoke  of  the  waves  you  could  hear  their  swish 
in  that  voice,  gentle  or  swelling  as  he  saw  the  waves  them- 


46         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

selves.  He  thus  plainly  appeared  to  be  a  youth  of  extraordi- 
nary gifts.  He  himself,  it  was  further  noted,  had  no  conscious- 
ness of  this  as  yet.  He  was  remarkably  free  from  any  self- 
consciousness.  He  was,  while  not  forward,  easily  accessible 
to  his  fellows,  a  remarkably  well-bred  young  fellow. 

He  is  pretty  young  to  start  out,  all  alone,  for  Amherst,  in 
far-off  Massachusetts.  But  he  is  of  courageous  stock;  and 
we  may  think  of  his  voyage  as  costing  less  of  anxiety  to  his 
parents  than  most  mothers  and  fathers  would  feel;  and  as 
looking  to  him  as  involving  no  risk  in  comparison  with  the 
ends  to  be  gained  by  going.  One  thing  tried  him — the  parting 
from  home  and  mother.  He  had  been  a  mother's  boy.  His 
disposition  seems  to  have  been  much  like  hers.  Between  them 
there  was  a  large  and  rich  sympathy.  They  had  had  years 
of  communing  together  of  whatsoever  things  are  true,  what- 
soever things  are  honest,  whatsoever  things  are  just,  what- 
soever things  are  pure,  whatsoever  things  are  lovely,  what- 
soever things  are  of  good  report. 

The  Rev.  Edward  Palmer  did  not  go  with  his  son  to  Qiarles- 
ton,  secure  passage  with  some  reliable  skipper  for  him,  and  see 
the  lad  safely  aboard  for  the  sail  to  New  York.  He  did  not 
even  ask  his  elder  brother,  the  Rev.  Dr.  Benjamin  Morgan 
Palmer,  of  the  "Circular  Church"  in  the  city  of  Charleston,  to 
see  his  nephew  and  namesake  safely  aboard  a  suitable  vessel. 
The  lad  was  regarded  as  able  to  take  care  of  himself.  He  ac- 
cordingly went  alone  from  his  home  in  Walterboro  to  Charles- 
ton, provided  for  his  own  passage,  and  boarded  his  vessel. 
It  would  be  interesting  to  know  what  he  saw  and  heard  on 
the  voyage;  what  questions  he  put  to  the  skipper  and  to  his 
fellow-passengers ;  to  know  how  he  felt  as  the  city  of  Charles- 
ton, the  place  of  his  birth,  the  home  of  his  fathers,  the  capital 
of  his  State,  faded  from  his  view;  and  to  know  what  he  felt 
as  he  watched  the  rolling  billows  of  the  apparently  limitless 
expanse  of  sea  about  him,  borrowing  and  adding  to  their  own 
the  varying  hues  of  the  vast  heavens  above  him.  We  may  be 
certain  that  unusual  thoughts  and  imaginations  possessed  him ; 
and  that  had  he  expressed  them,  he  would  have  done  it  in  a 
style  at  once  stately  and  beautiful,  with  a  kind  of  high  Alpine 
imagery.  For  such  was  his  wont.  He  was  of  the  class  of  be- 
ings who  habitually,  and  of  nature,  express  themselves  in  lofty 
and  noble  terms  of  sense,  who  see  even  commonplace  things 
in  their  more  dignified  aspects. 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  47 

After  an  uneventful  voyage  he  reached  New  York,  and 
thence  made  his  way  to  the  picturesque  village  of  Amherst. 
The  village  of  Amherst  was  to  derive  a  long  growing  distinc- 
tion as  the  seat  of  Amherst  College.  Here,  on  a  hill,  off  from 
the  forks  of  the  Connecticut,  the  college  had  been  planted  in 
1 82 1.  It  was  therefore,  a  very  young  college  which  this  young 
South  Carolinian  had  gone  so  far  to  enter.  But  while  young, 
it  had  an  efficient  faculty.  It  had  been  founded  mainly  for  the 
purpose  of  educating  poor  and  pious  young  men  for  the  Gospel 
ministry.  There  was  a  large  diarity  fund  which  paid  the  tui- 
tion fees  of  a  considerable  number  of  students.  Perhaps  the 
chief  considerations  with  his  parents  in  making  this  choice 
of  a  college  for  their  son,  were  the  reputation  of  the  place 
for  piety  (which  stood  then  in  striking  contrast,  in  this  respect, 
to  the  College  of  South  Carolina),  the  hope  that  their  son  might 
there  be  converted  and  led  to  dedicate  himself  to  the  ministry, 
and  the  prospect  of  relatively  small  cost  in  educating  him. 
Amherst  was  almost  matchless  at  the  time  for  offering  literary 
advantages  at  little  cost.  Tuition  and  room  rent  could  be  ob- 
tained for  $5.25  per  term.  Table  board  in  a  dub  was  to  be 
had  at  $1.25  per  week.  The  very  economical  student  could  get 
through  a  year's  study  on  a  total  expenditure,  including  that 
for  clothes,  of  $150.00.  There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that 
young  Palmer  was  expected  to  maintain  himself  on  so  small  a 
sum ;  but  he  was  expected  to  consult  economy.  His  father  had 
but  a  small  salary  on  which  to  maintain  and  educate  his  family. 

''A  small  group  of  Southern  students  nestled  like  birds  in  a  nest, 
in  that  far-off  New  England  clime.  Five  of  the  number  hailed  from 
Virginia,  four  from  Georgia,  and  one  poor  lone  speckled  bird  from 
South  Carolina.  The  heart  lingers  a  moment  over  this  little  coterie, 
trying  to  keep  itself  warm  in  that  cold  region  by  building  close  to- 
gether in  the  bonds  of  a  special  friendship.  Most  of  the  group  rose  to 
eminence  in  different  walks,  but  chiefly  in  the  service  of  the  church. 
The  names,  if  given  here  to  the  reader,  would  be  found  familiar  to 
history,  either  as  Ambassadors  at  foreign  courts,  as  Chancellors  of 
Universities,  or  as  Ecclesiastics  or  Divines.  It  was  an  uncanny  time 
for  Southern  men  to  trim  their  sails  for  Northern  seas.  The  Nullifi- 
cation storm  had  just  burst  over  the  country,  and  was  not  yet  ap- 
peased: The  abolition  fanaticism  was  rising  to  the  height  of  its 
frenzy.  The  elements  of  conflict  were  gathering  in  the  theological 
world,  which  a  little  later  resulted  in  the  schism  rending  the  Presby- 
terian Church  asunder.     The  sky  was   full  of  portents,  and  the  air 


48         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

screamed  with  war  cries  on  every  side.  The  unfortunate  South  Caro- 
linian, whom  fate  reserves  to  record  in  these  pages  his  own  disaster, 
was  too  young  and  unformed  in  character  to  steer  his  bark  over  such 
tempestuous  billows,  and  was  soon  wrecked  upon  a  treacherous  reef."  ^ 

Amongst  his  fellow  students  from  the  South  were  John 
Holmes  Bocock  and  Stuart  Robinson.  Amongst  those  from  the 
North  was  Henry  Ward  Beecher.  Friendships  more  or  less 
strong  were  formed  between  "Ben  Palmer"  and  each  of  these 
men.  Beecher  was  five  years  older  than  Palmer,  and  a  member 
of  a  more  advanced  class.  But  the  youth  and  the  young  man 
were  naturally  attracted  to  one  another.  They  were  alike  in 
possessing  active  minds,  and  facile  and  powerful  speech.  They 
were  unlike  in  that  Beecher  was  the  possessor  of  a  vastly  more 
impressive  figure,  was  capable  of  more  sensuous  and  lurid 
rhetoric,  and  could  with  little  reason,  or  against  reason,  sweep 
the  average  audience  with  him,  while  Palmer  had  always  to 
have  reason  on  his  side  in  order  to  effective  speaking.  Palmer, 
had  more  force  with  all  who  thought.  He  almost  never  lost 
command  of  himself,  nor  attempted  to  move  without  reason  at 
the  helm.  His  speech  was  more  classic,  more  Demosthenian, 
more  moving  to  the  thoughtful,  because  in  him  reason  was 
wedded  to  feeling  and  to  passion.  These  two  were  drawn  to- 
gether also  by  a  common  love  for  the  game  of  chess,  a  game  in 
which  it  is  said  that  Mr.  Palmer  excelled  Mr.  Beecher. 

But  if  young  Palmer  formed  friendships  with  men  of  the 
Northeast,  he  found  frequent  occasions  of  jars  to  that  friend- 
ship. He  heard  much  of  the  hot-headedness  of  his  section 
and  of  his  own  State  in  particular,  on  account  of  the  Nullifica- 
tion measure.  He  heard  the  whole  South  grossly  abused  on 
account  of  her  peculiar  institution  of  slavery.  He  heard  the 
masters  and  mistresses  of  slaves  vilified  as  inhuman  semi-bar- 
barians. He  was  not  the  youth  to  sit  under  these  slanders  in 
an  apathetic,  much  less  in  an  approving,  way.  He  knew  well 
many  large  slave  holders.  He  had  been  a  frequent  inmate  of 
their  homes.  He  knew  the  relative  happiness  and  contentment 
of  the  slaves.  His  father  had,  from  the  start,  been  as  much  a 
pastor  of  the  slaves  as  of  their  masters.  He  had  received  more 
slaves  into  his  churches  than  whites.  More  than  two  hundred 
and  fifty  colored  members  were  received  into  one  of  his  little 
country  churches  between  1832  and  i860.    Nor  was  the  Rev. 

*  From  Dr.  Palmer's  unpublished  manuscript  on  Dr.  Stuart  Robinson. 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  49 

Edward  Palmer's  course  exceptional  in  regard  to  the  slaves. 
White  Christians  generally  were  solicitous,  in  his  region,  for 
the  spiritual  welfare  of  their  black  people.  Young  Palmer  soon 
became  marked  as  a  spokesman  for  the  Southern  cause,  and 
was  worried  not  a  little  by  the  assaults,  in  the  classroom  and 
on  the  campus,  made  upon  the  land  of  his  birth  and  rearing. 
His  championship  probably  provoked  repeated  assaults.  His 
irritation,  thus  produced,  was  not  without  determining  influ- 
ence in  a  crisis  which  was  to  come  in  the  history  of  his  rela- 
tions with  the  faculty. 

Meanwhile  he  had  been  a  good  student,  and  report  says 
that  he  stood  first  in  his  class,  notwithstanding  his  extreme 
youth.  He  had  completed  his  first  year  and  gotten  about  mid- 
way of  the  second,  when  the  crisis  in  his  history  as  a  student 
in  Amherst  came. 

The  Rev.  Thomas  A.  Hoyt,  D.D.,  has  left  the  following  ac- 
count of  the  occasion  of  the  passage : 

"Palmer  was  attached  to  a  literary  society,  the  members  of  which 
were  bound  by  a  solemn  pledge  not  to  disclose  what  occurred  at  its 
meetings.  One  of  the  exercises  consisted  of  the  reading  by  the  sec- 
retary of  anonymous  papers  which  had  been  deposited  in  a  box  at  the 
door.  A  paper  was  read  at  one  of  the  meetings  which  contained 
caustic  but  humorous  criticisms  of  the  professors.  A  divinity  student 
betrayed  his  fellow-members  by  informing  the  Faculty.  At  the  next 
meeting  of  the  society,  an  order  was  read  forbidding  the  exercise, 
whereupon  Palmer,  then  about  sixteen  years  of  age,  moved  that  the 
paper  conveying  the  order  be  tabled  indefinitely,  alleging  that  the 
Faculty  could  not  know  of  the  exercises  except  through  the  treachery 
of  one  of  the  students,  and  that  it  was  unworthy  of  the  dignity  of  the 
professors  to  accept  perjured  testimony  as  evidence.  The  president 
was  afraid  to  put  the  motion  to  vote,  but  two  members  held  him  in 
the  chair  while  the  question  was  put  and  carried.  This  transaction  was 
promptly  communicated  by  the  same  informer  to  the  Faculty. 

"That  honorable  body  thereupon  attempted  discipline  for  both  of- 
fenses. In  order  to  discover  the  author  of  the  obnoxious  paper,  their 
plan  was  to  force  all  who  could  do  so,  to  swear  that  they  were  guilt- 
less; and  thus  force  them  by  indirection  to  place  the  offense  at  the 
door  of  the  culprit.  A  number  of  high  spirited  fellows  were  indig- 
nant that  they  should  be  thus  forced  into  the  role  of  informers,  against 
their  pledge,  too,  as  members  of  a  secret  society.  The  sixteen-year-old 
Palmer  was  at  their  head  and  their  mouthpiece.  When  summoned  into 
the  presence  of  the  Faculty  and  requested  to  make  his  disavowal,  he 
informed  that  body  that  he  was  in  honor  bound  to  take  no  part  in 

4 


50         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

disclosing  what  went  on  in  a  society  the  members  of  which  were  each 
pledged  to  secrecy.  The  Faculty  insisted  that  he  must  tell,  declaring 
that  they  were  as  competent  to  judge  of  that  which  was  compatible 
with  honor  as  he  was.  He  refused  in  absolute  terms  to  comply  with 
their  demand.  They  threatened  to  expel  him  should  he  persist. 
'Well,  sirs/  said  he,  T  will  take  expulsion  at  your  hands  rather  than 
traijiple  upon  my  sense  of  honor.'  The  boy  here  shows  *the  father 
of  the  man,'  as  Dr.  Stuart  Robinson  once  remarked,  when  speaking 
of  the  incident.  He  displayed  'the  high  qualities  of  honor  and 
courage  which  marked  his  life.'  It  was  some  little  time  before  he 
could  leave  the  town.  The  Faculty  repenting  of  their  severity  in 
dealing  with  him  on  account  of  his  youth,  and  perhaps,  on  account  of 
the  sentiments  he  had  expressed,  came  to  him  and  would  have  taken 
him  back;  but  owing  to  the  irritation  he  had  suffered  at  the  hands  of 
the  critics  of  his  State  and  section  and  to  his  dislike  of  the  spirit  of 
the  college  as  illustrated  in  the  occasion  of  his  expulsion,  he  was 
determined  to  leave  the  institution  and  to  return  to  his  own  people. 
In  the  whole  episode  he  had  behaved  like  a  true  son  of  South  Carolina. 
When  one  morning,  on  the  top  of  a  stage,  he  left  Amherst,  he  had 
good  proof  that  his  New  England  fellow  students  were  generous 
enough  to  feel  and  express  their  admiration  for  his  course.  It  is  said 
that  'the  entire  body  of  undergraduates  assembled  and  gave  him  a  great 
ovation,  sending  him  off  with  ringing  cheers.' " 

He  proceeded  to  New  York,  and  there  engaged  passage  for 
Charleston,  S.  C  While  waiting  for  the  sailing  of  his  vessel 
an  incident  happened  which  gave  him  excruciating  misery  for 
about  six  hours  and  exerted  a  life-long  influence  upon  him, 
inclining  him  to  sympathize  with  all  the  stranded  sons  and 
daughters  of  men.  Killing  time  by  strolling  the  streets,  he 
came  upon  a  second-hand  book  store,  entered  and  looked 
over  the  shelves.  He  discovered  a  work  of  value  and  proposed 
to  buy  it.  This  book  store  was  kept  by  rascals.  Young  Palmer 
had  but  one  bill  of  currency,  a  fifty-dollar  note.  He  purchased 
the  book  and  gave  the  note  in  payment,  asking  for  the  change. 
The  recipient,  leaving  his  partner  in  charge,  said,  "I  will  go 
out  and  get  the  change."  Minutes  passed,  an  hour  dragged 
by;  the  youth  approached  the  other  partner  and  remarked  on 
the  length  of  time  he  had  to  wait  for  his  money ;  he  received 
the  cruel  reply  that  he  would  never  see  his  money  again,  that 
the  fellow  would  not  come  back.  This  was  to  the  country- 
bred  youth  a  staggering  blow.  He  had  no  other  money.  He 
had  not  yet  paid  his  passage.  He  did  not  know  what  to  do. 
He  was  afraid  to  go  out  in  search  of  a  policeman  and  lodge 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  51 

complaint,  lest  he  himself  should  be  charged  with  being  an 
impostor.  In  grim  desperation  he  resolved  to  stay  in  that  store 
as  long  as  it  should  be  possible  that  he  might  confront  the 
scoundrel  upon  his  return.  After  six  weary  hours  had  passed 
the  man  cautiously  ventured  back  to  the  neighborhood.  Cir- 
cumstances favored  Mr.  Palmer.  While  the  knave  was  trying 
to  discover  whether  the  coast  was  clear  of  the  purchaser,  that 
severely  tried  young  man  caught  sight  of  him,  dashed  upon 
him,  when  for  very  shame  the  shabby  fellow  gave  up  the  money. 

To  his  latest  day  he  could  never  recall  this  experience  with- 
out pain.  He  was  ever  remarkably  ready  to  respond  to  all 
appeals  for  help  made  by  young  men.  He  often  suffered  at 
the  hands  of  the  unworthy  importunate.  He  knew  it,  but 
would  say,  "Twelve  impostors  may  hoodwink  me,  but  in  the 
thirteenth  man  I  may  aid  a  person  in  real  need.  I  will  give  the 
money  to  the  thirteen  that  I  may  certainly  give  to  him  who 
really  needs.  I  was  once  in  awful  straits  and  if  my  money  had 
not  been  returned  I  had  determined  to  go  to  some  minister  of 
my  own  church  and  tell  my  story  and  ask  him  for  help.  I  am 
behaving  now  simply  as  I  would  have  had  others  behave  to- 
ward me." 

Recovering  his  money  and  boarding  his  ship  he  reached 
Charleston,  S.  C,  without  other  important  incident.  Thence 
he  made  his  way  to  the  Pocotaligo  Creek  and  up  it  to  the  neigh- 
borhood in  which  his  father  was  now  living. 

As  already  narrated  Rev.  Edward  Palmer  had  in  1831 
changed  his  field  of  labor  from  Walterboro  to  Stony  Creek, 
twenty-five  or  thirty  miles  distant.  He  had  not  removed  from 
Walterboro,  however,  till  1832,  and  perhaps  not  till  after  his 
son  had  left  for  Amherst.  In  the  spring  of  1834  when  "Ben 
Palmar"  was  trying  to  reach  his  parents,  they  were  living  at  a 
country  plantation  called  Laurium,  not  far  from  the  Stony 
Creek  Church.  It  will  be  recalled  that  the  planters  whose  fam- 
ilies worshipped  at  this  church  passed  their  summers,  at  Mc- 
Phersonville,  about  seven  miles  off,  on  the  sand  hills  and  under 
the  long-leafed  pines ;  and  that  they  had  a  "parsonage"  there 
for  their  preacher's  summer  house.  They  had  had  a  manse 
near  Stony  Creek  Church  for  his  use  in  the  winter  when  the 
most  of  the  planters  had  their  families  on  the  plantations ;  but 
the  parsonage  had  been  burned  and  because  of  the  want  of  a 
manse  they  had  rented  for  their  pastor's  use  during  the  winter 
of  1833-1834,  the  plantation  house  of  Laurium.     This  was  a 


52         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

rather  imposing  house  for  a  minister.  The  original  Laurium 
house  had  been  of  the  usual  plan,  a  two-story  house,  with  hall 
and  stairway  midway  between  the  two  ends,  a  plain  square 
room  on  either  side  of  the  hall  in  each  story,  and  broad  piazzas 
on  north  and  south.  The  preceding  owner  had  added  a  very 
long  room  on  each  end,  the  rooms  being  as  long  as  the  breadth 
of  the  original  house  and  of  the  two  piazzas,  and  fashioned  in 
front  in  octagonal  form.  They  were  intended,  one  as  a  ball- 
room and  the  other  as  a  supper  room.  The  front  piazza  looked 
to  the  north,  the  back  one  to  the  south.  It  was  warm  and 
sunny,  with  orange  trees  on  either  side  of  the  steps. 

Ben  Palmer  had  been  longing  for  this  home  for  weeks.  Ev- 
ery person  he  most  loved  was  there.  The  stem  father  he  ad- 
mired was  there ;  his  two  bright  and  devoted  sisters  were  there ; 
and  his  younger  brother ;  most  of  all,  his  mother,  the  brilliant, 
buoyant,  pure  and  noble,  his  companion,  inspiration  and  mentor 
was  there.  He  knew  that  reports  from  Amherst  had  outrun 
him.  He  did  not  know  how  his  family  would  receive  him. 
Laurium  did  not  have  a  landing  on  the  Pocotaligo,  but  the  boats 
touched  at  the  adjoining  plantation  owned  by  a  Mr.  Wm.  G. 
Martin,  who  was  an  elder  or  deacon  in  Stony  Creek  Church. 
Ben  Palmer  left  the  boat  at  Mr.  Martin's  landing,  and  went  to 
his  house  as  the  hour  of  the  little  schooner's  arrival  was  late 
at  night.  Anticipating  some  trouble  at  home,  he  laid  his  case 
before  Mr.  Martin,  who  went  over  and  acquainted  Mr.  and 
Mo-s.  Palmer  with  the  fact  of  their  son's  arrival  at  his  place. 
He  returned  with  the  message  that  Benjamin  was  to  come  on 
home. 

His  welcome  under  the  paternal  roof  as  extended  by  his 
father  was  not  warm.  Tradition  says  that  Mr.  Palmer,  having 
heard  the  side  of  the  Faculty  directly  from  them,  had  made  up 
his  mind  that  his  son's  course  could  not  be  justified ;  that  he 
was  greatly  mortified  at  his  dismissal  from  college;  felt  that 
his  son  had  sacrificed  foolishly  capital  advantages;  and  that, 
as  he  was  himself  without  private  fortune  and  living  on  a 
modest  salary,  the  sacrifice  was  perhaps  an  irreparable  one. 
He  was  fearfully  disappointed  with  the  outcome  of  sending  his 
son,  on  whom  he  had  set  high  hopes,  to  the  far-off  Northern 
college.  Traditions  vary  as  to  the  extent  of  severity  which  he 
now  displayed.  Some  say  that  he  forbade  his  son  the  house, 
telling  him  that  he  would  henceforth  have  to  shift  for  himself. 
Others  says  that  he  simply  expressed  plainly  his  own  view  of 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  53 

his  son's  course,  suppressed  the  son's  attempted  explanation 
and  justification  of  the  course  and  refused  to  extend  to  him  the 
hand  of  welcome.  Whatever  the  course  of  the  father,  it  was 
too  severe  for  such  a  high-spirited  youth,  conscious  of  no  grave 
fault  in  himself  in  connection  with  his  expulsion  from  college. 
The  challenge  in  his  father's  conduct  and  language  he  was 
about  to  accept  by  leaving  home,  to  begin  the  future  by  him- 
self. But  he  had  not  reckoned  with  all  his  hosts.  His  mother, 
of  spirit  like  her  boy,  and  understanding  her  son  to  the  core, 
stands  near  with  beating  heart,  but  a  masterful  grasp  of  the 
whole  household,  and  so  we  may  look  upon  mother  and  son 
seated  a  few  minutes  later,  perhaps  in  that  sunny  south  porch, 
with  the  orange  trees  on  either  side  of  the  pathway  leading 
toward  the  river,  talking  the  whole  matter  over,  and  uncon- 
sciously growing  a  deeper  sympathy  between  themselves  than 
ever.  Her  heart  and  mind  dominate  the  hour.  She  under- 
stands and  sympathizes  with  the  son.  She  hears  the  whole 
story  and  sees  in  it  as  much  to  admire  as  to  condemn,  and  per- 
haps more.  She  at  the  same  time  appreciates  fully  the  father's 
feelings,  and  shows  the  son  how  natural  and  inevitable  it  is 
that  his  father  should  feel  so  about  the  matter.  There  was  no 
great  cordiality  speedily  established  between  the  father  and  the 
son.  Indeed,  it  was  some  years  before  the  estrangement,  so 
engendered,  passed  entirely  away.  It  did  pass  entirely  away 
and  the  father  and  son  became  rarely  devoted  the  one  to  the 
other.  Meanwhile  the  mother  and  the  wife  had  ruled  both  like 
the  queen  she  was.  For  her  services  to  him  at  this  time,  her 
son  was  to  bless  her  inemory  to  the  end  of  his  long  and  most 
honored  life.  He  would  reverently  say,  "Under  God  she  was 
at  this  time  my  savior,"  and  the  thought  of  her  caused  many 
a  stirring  and  eloquent  period  to  roll  from  his  heart  and  brain, 
and  the  performance  of  many  a  heroic  deed. 

The  next  two  or  three  years  young  Palmer  spent  in  the  work 
of  teaching  and  private  study.  He  seems  toTiave  gone  to  teach- 
ing very  soon  after  his  return,  in  the  early  spring  of  1834,  in 
the  family  of  Mr.  Wm.  G.  Martin,  the  good  man  to  whom  he 
had  gone  on  leaving  the  schooner  that  brought  him  up  the 
Pocotaligo  homeward  bound.  He  next  taught  during  the  sum- 
mer of  1834  the  village  schoool  in  McPhersonville  in  which 
his  father's  family  and  those  of  his  parishioner  planters  passed 
their  summers.  The  winter  of  1835-1836  he  seems  to  have 
spent  teaching  in  the  family  of  Mr.  Hibbens,  at  Mt.  Pleasant, 


54         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

across  the  Cooper  river  from  Charleston.  He  may  have  taught 
again  in  McPhersonville  in  the  summer  and  autumn  of  1836. 
Tradition  says  that  he  was  an  effective  teacher  and  a  deter- 
mined disciplinarian,  that  he  easily  and  effectually  quelled  a 
somewhat  mutinous  band  of  larger  boys  in  the  village  school 
that  resented  his  strictness;  but  reports  say  also  that  he  was 
worsted  on  one  occasion  by  his  little  sister  Sally.  It  seems  that 
she  was  a  great  pet  of  his;  that  it  was  his  delight  also  to  lie 
down  and  have  her  rub  his  head  that  he  might  the  more  easily 
fall  into  an  after-dinner  nap.  At  the  school  one  day  she  in- 
curred his  official  displeasure.  He  ordered  her  to  take  her 
stand  on  a  high  bench  in  front  of  the  teacher's  desk,  a  kind 
of  punishment  he  was  wont  to  apply  to  misdoers.  The  humili- 
ation was  too  much  for  the  little  miss.  Flaring  with  indigna- 
tion, she  raised  her  fist  aloft  and  exclaimed,  "Yes,  sir;  you 
will  not  have  me  to  rub  your  head  any  more  when  you  wish 
to  take  a  nap ;"  and  bolting  for  the  door,  she  ran  home.  What 
the  final  upshot  of  this  struggle  between  authority  and  wit- 
fulness  was,  tradition  has  not  reported. 

The  teaching  of  the  young  is  a  valuable  training  for  men 
who  are  to  deal  with  their  fellows  either  as  lawyers  or  minis- 
ters. The  schoolroom  is  a  fine  place  in  which  to  study  human 
nature.  Providence  was  training  this  young  man  in  an  excel- 
lent school,  we  may  well  believe  therefore,  in  these  several 
schoolrooms  in  which  he  was  trying  to  teach  children  and 
youth.  He  was  at  this  time,  too,  taking  in  more  fully  the  pe- 
culiar culture  of  the  country,  and  unconsciously  storing  up  a 
great  amount  of  matter  which  he  would  afterwards  use  as  il- 
lustrative of  God's  truth  from  his  royal  pulpit. 

He  was  now  at  the  age  to  be  invited  to  the  house  parties 
on  the  plantations.  His  social  standing  and  his  gifts  made  him 
welcome  everywhere.  If  the  city  cousin  from  Charleston  pos- 
sessed superior  polish,  he  was  the  youth  to  note  it  with  dis- 
crimination, and  to  appropriate  that  which  was  genuinely  ele- 
gant, without  despising  in  the  least  the  simpler  virtues  of  his 
rural  neighbors. 

He  had  on  these  visits,  and  when  residing  as  a  tutor  in  the 
families  of  planters,  the  best  opportunity  to  acquaint  himself 
with  all  the  methods  of  that  life.  And  those  methods  were 
still  so  primitive,  says  Professor  Hutson,  "that  there  were 
many  things  in  the  daily  life  around  him  to  illustrate  vividly 
for  young  Palmer  the  scenes  of  Scripture.    There  was  the  plan- 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  55 

tation  mill  with  its  upper  and  nether  mill-stone,  the  lone  grinder 
at  the  mill,  and  the  song  with  which  he  solaced  his  labors. 
There  was  the  threshing-floor  of  beaten  clay  where  the  rice 
was  threshed  out  by  flails  swung  by  sturdy  hands.  There  was 
the  winnowing  tower  where  the  rough  rice  was  separated  from 
the  chaif .  There  was  the  huge  wooden  mortar  wherein  with 
a  great  wooden  pestle  the  rough  rice  was  beaten  clean  of  its 
husks.  There  were  the  yokes  of  oxen,  the  sheep-fold,  the  low- 
ing cattle  driven  slowly  homeward  from  pasture  to  cowpen. 
There  was,  too,  all  that  variety  and  fulness  of  life  which  made 
life  on  the  plantation  so  much  richer  than  life  in  the  village  or 
town."  During  a  considerable  portion  of  this  period,  after  his 
return  from  Amherst,  he  was  the  subject  of  profound  religious 
impressions  which  at  length  resulted  in  his  conversion,  in  the 
summer  of  1836.  He  had  been  carefully  trained  in  the  knowl- 
edge of  God's  truth.  He  understood  that  in  taking  Qirist  as 
his  Savior  he  must  take  him  as  Master.  Rebellion  ran  ram- 
pant in  his  heart.  He  trembled  on  the  brink  of  infidelity.  He 
has  left  behind  some  brief  indications  as  to  his  experiences 
at  the  time  as  well  as  to  certain  circumstances  precedent  to 
his  conversion. 

In  his  little  volume  on  the  "Formation  of  Qiaracter"  he  gives 
us  a  leaf  of  his  own  history.    He  says :  * 

"When  J  was  seventeen  years  of  age,  I  was  thrown  into  a  large  city 
as  much  given  to  gaiety  as  this,  without  being  subject  to  any  control. 
I  was  irreligious,  nay,  worse  than  that,  I  was  hostile  to  religion,  in 
decided  hostility  to  God  and  the  Gospel,  in  such  evil  posture  that,  had 
I  fallen  into  the  hands  of  scoffers  I  might  have  become  as  infidel  as 
they.  Surrounded  by  companions  as  unrestrained  as  myself,  most  of 
whom  sank  into  premature  graves,  through  the  mercy  of  God  I  was 
saved." 

In  one  of  his  published  sermons,'  he  exclaims : 

"I  have  no  idea  that  there  is  one  in  all  this  assembly  who  has  ever 
been,  in  the  worst  crisis  of  his  history,  the  guilty  and  blasphemous 
wretch  that  he  was  at  eighteen  years  of  age  who  this  morning  addresses 
to  you  the  Gospel  of  the  Grace  of  God." 

"The  long  rankling  sense  of  injustice,  as  he  saw  it  inflicted 
by  Christian  people,  set  him  fearfully  against  religion,"  says 
Dr.  R.  R.  Mallard,  so  that  when  grace  found  him,  it  found 
him  kicking,  like  Saul  of  Tarsus,  against  the  pricks. 

*See  pp.  125  and  126.    *  Sermons,  Vol.  I.,  p.  596. 


S6         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

In  an  address  in  memory  of  Rev.  L  S.  K.  Axson,  D.D.,  pas- 
tor of  the  Independent  Presb3rterian  Church  of  Savannah, 
Ga.,  Dr.  Palmer  said : 

"It  is  known  to  but  few  that  the  tie  which  bound  the  speaker  to  Dr. 
Axson  was  one  of  grace  as  well  as  of  nature.  There  was  a  spiritual 
relationship  between  us  in  addition  to  that  of  kindred  and  of  blood. 
It  happened  on  this  wise.  In  journeying  from  Dorchester  to  Liberty 
G>unty,  his  second  pastoral  charge,  his  path  lay  before  my  father's 
door.  It  was  my  office  to  light  him  to  his  chamber  at  night;  when 
placing  the  candle  upon  his  table  it  was  natural  to  pause  a  few 
seconds  before  parting.  He  seized  the  opportunity  to  address  me  on  the 
subject  of  personal  religion.  There  was  a  persuasiveness  in  his  tone 
that  soothed  me  as  he  said:  'My  cousin,  you  are  growing  up  fast  to 
manhood;  is  it  not  a  good  time  to  give  yourself  to  the  Savior,  when 
you  are  soon  to  choose  the  course  in  life  which  you  shall  pursue?' 
Subdued  by  his  gentleness,  I  replied:  'G>usin  Stockton,  I  am  doubt- 
less regarded  by  all  around  me  as  thoughtless  and  flippant,  because  I 
turn  the  edge  of  every  appeal  with  a  jest,  but  I  am  free  to  confess  to 
you  that  for  eighteen  months  I  have  lived  in  the  bosom  of  as  fierce  a 
storm  as  ever  swept  over  a  human  soul.'  My  friends,  I  am  describing 
his  career,  not  my  own.  I  may  not,  therefore,  tell  the  whole  story  of 
a  heart  that  trembled  on  the  verge  of  scoffing  and  infidelity,  con- 
scious of  its  bitter  hatred  of  God  and  of  divine  things.  But  when  this 
gentle  Nathanael  said  to  me,  'Close  it  up,  my  cousin,  close  it  up,  and 
be  at  peace  with  God,'  before  reaching  the  door  of  his  chamber,  I 
took  the  solemn  vow  that  I  would  make  the  salvation  of  my  soul  the 
supreme  business  of  my  life,  even  if  it  should  not  be  attained  until  the 
last  hour  of  a  life  as  long  as  that  of  Methuselah.  It  was  long  before 
peace  came;  for  the  sea  is  slow  to  subside  after  it  has  been  tossed  by 
a  tempest  Six  weary  months,  full  of  darkness  and  disappointment, 
elapsed  before  the  prison  door  was  opened  and  the  captive  was  free,  and 
the  temptation  was  strong  to  abandon  all  in  despair  but  for  the 
solemnity  of  the  form  in  which  the  vow  was  taken.  When  the  peace 
came,  it  came  to  stay,  and  through  five  and  fifty  years  it  has  deepened 
in  the  soul  to  which  it  came  as  the  balm  of  heaven.  Have  I  not  a 
commission  to  be  with  you  to-night  and  to  speak  the  praise  of  him  who 
then  put  his  hand  upon  the  burning  brand  to  pluck  it  from  the  fire?  I 
believe  it  was  a  comfort  to  him  to  know  the  agency  he  had  in  saving 
a  great  sinner  from  eternal  death,  and  it  is  sweet  to  me  to  lay  this 
memory  as  a  laurel  leaf  upon  his  grave." 

We  cannot  understand  from  this  reference  to  himself  as  a 
great  sinner  that  he  was  ever  addicted  to  gross  sin.  It  is  be- 
lieved that  from  a  mere  human  point  of  view  his  life  would 
have  appeared  clean  and  high.    According  to  the  record  of  the 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  57 

Stony  Creek  session  book  he  was  admitted  to  membership  in 
that  church  July  10,  1836.  The  scene  of  admission  was  the 
chapel  in  McPhersonville,  in  which  he  was  to  preach  from  time 
to  time,  and  for  the  last  time  in  April,  1899,  when  he  was  to 
make  feeling  allusion  to  this  important  day  in  his  life's  history. 

In  January,  1837,  he  renewed  his  academic  studies  in  the 
University  of  Georgia.  This  institution  had  been  chartered  in 
1785,  but  not  opened  till  1801.  During  the  presidencies  of 
Moses  Waddell,  D.D.  (1819-1829),  and  of  Alonzo  Church, 
D.D.  (1829,  ff.)>  it  had  taken  rank  with  the  better  colleges  of 
the  land.  Moreover,  and  this  was  no  insignificant  thing  in  the 
eyes  of  the  Palmers,  the  university  and  the  now  pretty  little 
town  of  Athens,  off  the  shoals  of  the  north  fork  of  the  Oconee, 
amid  the  foothills  of  the  Blue  Ridge,  were  centers  of  piety  and 
sound  morality  as  well  as  of  culture.  These  considerations 
were  leading  not  a  few  South  Carolina  youths  to  the  Georgia 
school. 

We  are  able  to  take  a  view  of  the  Faculty,  of  the  student 
body,  and  of  young  Palmer  during  this  period,  January,  1837, 
to  August,  1838,  as  seen  by  his  roommate  for  the  last  session, 
who  is  now  the  Hon.  Daniel  J.  Pope,  head  law  professor  in  the 
University  of  South  Carolina.  According  to  Mr.  Pope,  Dr. 
Alonzo  Church,  like  a  good  many  able  teachers,  could  not 
preach,  but  was  a  man  of  great  executive  abilities  and  a  superb 
mathematician,  but  at  this  time  carrying  the  work  of  the  chair 
of  Ethics  and  Metaphysics  in  addition  to  his  executive  labors. 
He  had  no  superior  as  a  manager  of  young  men.  He  was 
courtesy  and  dignity  personified.  His  looks  were  in  his  favor : 
he  was  about  six  feet  tall,  slender  and  graceful,  a  brunette, 
with  extraordinarily  dark  and  brilliant  eyes,  dark  hair,  a  face 
classical  in  its  modeling  and  proportions.  He  was  delightful  in 
conversation.  He  had  a  delightful  voice  and  lectured  to  his 
classes  with  wonderful  ease.  He  possessed  great  facility  in 
calling*  out  a  discussion  of  a  point  on  the  part  of  the  class  and 
delighted  in  doing  so.  He  was  not  a  man  of  wit ;  but  once  said 
a  witty  thing.  A  student  had  gotten  hold  of  his  hat  and  had 
written  in  it  the  word  "fool."  The  doctor  picked  his  hat  up, 
looked  at  the  scrawl  with  surprise  and  said:  "I  do  not  know 
who  has  done  it,  but  some  one  has  written  his  name  in  my  hat." 
He  made  his  home  educative  of  our  manners.  He  and  his  wife, 
a  very  handsome  woman,  were  charming  socially,  and  had  four 
beautiful  and  very  charming  daughters.    They  conducted  the 


58         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

aifairs  of  the  house,  and  had  all  the  conversational  powers  of 
their  father.    The  boys  were  all  in  love  with  them. 

All  the  other  professors  were  able  men  and  very  competent 
teachers.  The  professor  of  ancient  languages,  James  P.  Wad- 
dell,  was  an  excellent  classical  scholar.  William  Lehman,  in 
the  Chair  of  Modern  Languages,  and  Dr.  Henry  Hull  in  that  of 
Mathematics,  were  good  teachers.  Professor  James  Jackson 
of  the  Qiairs  of  Natural  Philosophy  and  Chemistry,  was  a 
splendid  old  fellow,  much  beloved  by  the  students,  "a  great 
Presbyterian,  whose  face  looked  every  Sunday  as  if  it  could  not 
wreathe  into  a  smile  at  the  most  beautiful  thing  in  nature  or 
art.  He  loved  a  fight  and  always  made  the  boys  tell  him  fully 
about  every  one  that  occurred."  But  one  of  the  most  remark- 
able men  was  Prof.  C.  F.  McKay,  Professor  of  Civil  Engineer- 
ing. He  was  a  great  mathematician,  an  admirable  English 
scholar,  and  all  round,  one  of  the  most  remarkable  men  I  ever 
knew. 

Among  Ben  Palmer's  schoolmates  were  men  who  afterwards 
were  known  as  Dr.  James  Jackson,  Justice  of  the  Supreme 
Court;  Judge  Benjamin  P.  Pressley,  of  the  Circuit  Court  of 
South  Carolina ;  Judge  John  S.  Shorter,  of  the  Superior  Court 
of  Alabama;  John  LeConte,  M.D.,  LL.D.,  of  many  distin- 
guished positions,  finally  President  of  the  University  of  Cal- 
ifornia ;  Col.  Alexander  M.  Speer,  and  Robert  Trippe,  Justices 
of  Supreme  Court,  and  many  others  distinguished  as  professors 
in  universities,  colleges,  or  professional  schools,  as  ministers, 
physicians,  or  lawyers. 

"Ben  Palmer,"  continues  Mr.  Pope,  "entered  the  Junior 
class.  I  entered  the  following  year.  We  were  from  the  same 
general  region,  knew  of  one  another,  and  Palmer  invited  me  to 
be  his  roommate.  Though  two  years  ahead  of  me  in  college, 
he  showed  for  me  the  greatest  consideration  and  sympathy, 
putting  himself  on  a  level  with  me.  We  would  converse  on  all 
sorts  of  subjects.  His  mind  was  always  clear  and  his  use  of 
language  very  remarkable.  Almost  as  soon  as  I  entered  he 
pursuaded  me  to  join  the  College  Temperance  Society.  He  de- 
livered about  this  time  the  finest  temperance  lecture  it  has  ever 
been  my  privilege  to  hear,  though  he  was  at  the  time  only  about 
twenty  years  old.  I  was  not  in  his  class.  I  cannot  tell  you  any- 
thing of  his  recitations,  but  I  know  he  was  an  elegant  Latin 
scholar,  a  good  Greek  scholar,  a  splendid  English  scholar,  a 
good  mathematician  and  stood  first  in  all  studies.    But  the  place 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  59 

in  which  I  knew  him  best  was  the  Phi  Kappa  Society,  a  debat- 
ing society  which  met  every  Saturday  and  put  in  a  large  part 
of  the  day.  He  was  himself  wont  to  regard  the  training  he 
derived  in  this  society  as  of  the  first  importance  to  his  subse- 
quent career.  Palmer  was  never  absent,  and  always  took  part 
in  debate.  He  was  as  fluent  then  as  he  ever  became,  as  elo- 
quent then  as  he  ever  became.  I  have  never  seen  a  youth  of  his 
age  who  could  surpass  him  as  a  debater.  I  remember  one  oc- 
casion on  which  the  question  was,  *Is  Napoleon  Bonaparte 
entitled  to  be  called  great?'  He  took  the  affirmative,  and 
brought  tears  to  our  eyes  as  he  pictured  that  eagle  caged  on 
St.  Helena. 

"Palmer  was  always  honorable  and  virtuous.  He  was  a  high, 
clean  fellow.  He  was  always  in  love.  He  fell  very  much  in 
love  with  one  of  Dr.  Church's  daughters.  But  amongst  her 
beaux  there  was  a  handsome  fellow  to  whom  she  had  become 
engaged  to  be  married.  Accordingly,  when  Palmer  proposed 
she  declined.  Not  long  after  his  refusal  we  were  walking  to- 
gether in  the  woods  one  afternoon,  when  reverting  to  the  sore 
subject,  he  said,  *Do  you  think  that  that  man  is  handsomer 
than  I  am  ?'  I  was  intensely  amused ;  for  Ben  Palmer,  though 
every  inch  a  gentleman,  and  a  well-groomed  one  in  his  appear- 
ance, and  evidently  of  great  brilliancy  and  parts  to  those  who 
knew  him,  was  remarkably  homely  in  the  common  eye.  I  said, 
'The  truth  compels  me  to  say  that  I  do  think  he  is  handsomer 
than  you,  but  he  has  not  one  tenth  of  your  brains.' 

"Palmer  was  graduated  with  the  first  honors,  in  August, 
1838,  and  on  that  occasion  delivered  an  exquisite  oration."  * 

He  ran  this  distinguished  career  in  the  University  of  Georgia 
with  burdens  on  his  shoulders.  He  largely  supported  himself 
during  his  entire  career  in  the  institution  by  private  labors  as 
a  tutor.  He  served  as  tutor  first  in  the  family  of  the  distin- 
guished lawyer,  Mr.  Oliver  H.  Prince,  of  Athens.  He  was  liv- 
ing in  the  Prince  home,  and  in  charge  of  the  children  of  Mr. 
Prince  when  that  gentleman,  accompanied  by  his  wife,  made 
tiie  trip  to  New  York,  that  he  miglit  superintend  the  publishing 
of  the  "Digest  of  the  Laws  of  Georgia"  which  he  had  compiled. 
And  when,  on  their  return  voyage,  the  father  and  mother  per- 

*This  account  of  Mr.  Palmer's  life  at  the  University  of  Georgia 
is  largely  in  the  words  of  the  Hon.  Daniel  Joseph  Pope,  of  Co- 
lumbia, S.  C,  taken  down  as  he  talked  in  July,  1904. 


6o         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

ished  off  the  Hatteras  coast  in  the  wreck  of  the  steamer  Home, 
Mr.  Palmer  showed  the  greatest  tenderness  toward,  and  exer- 
cised the  greatest  care  over,  his  orphaned  charges  until  they 
were  removed  to  Macon,  Ga.,  to  be  with  relatives. 

His  faithfulness  and  tenderness  to  the  sorrow-stricken  chil- 
dren of  the  Princes,  and  his  qualifications  for  tutoring,  secured 
an  invitation  now  to  become  tutor  in  the  family  of  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Thomas  Wiley  Baxter.  Here  he  taught  Thomas  W.  Baxter, 
Jr.,  afterwards  of  Atlanta,  Ga.,  Sally  Catherine  Baxter,  who 
in  due  time  became  Mrs.  Edgeworth  Bird,  of  Baltimore,  and 
John  L.  Baxter,  who  developed  into  a  man  of  scholarly  attain- 
ments and  note,  a  physician.  He  so  behaved  toward  these  chil- 
dren as  not  only  to  advance  them  in  learning  but  to  gain  their 
fraternal  and  undying  affection.  He  won  the  love  of  the  par- 
ents as  fully  as  that  of  the  children.  This  affection  he  returned, 
taking  Mrs.  Baxter  into  his  heart  as  a  kind  of  second  mother 
to  him,  and  the  children  as  brothers  and  sisters.  For  Mrs.  Bax- 
ter he  ever  entertained  a  huge  admiration.  Hers  was  a  char- 
acter as  "pure  and  peaceful  as  ever  blessed  a  home."  Years 
later  he  said,  "Her  equable  temper,  early  sweetened  by  divine 
grace,  breathed  around  her  an  atmosphere  so  sincere,  that  to 
be  near  her  was  to  be  at  rest.  Her  gentle  patience  broke  the 
edge  of  sorrow,  leaving  it  nothing  but  its  pathos.  Her  step 
in  life  was  so  noiseless  that  even  duty  seemed  eased  of  its  bur- 
den. Her  unselfish  sympathy  plucked  the  grief  from  many  an 
aching  heart,  whilst  an  unobtrusive  charity  lighted  many  a 
scant  home  with  her  beneficence.  Neither  dazzled  by  the  splen- 
dors of  fortune,  nor  daunted  by  the  frowns  of  adversity,  her 
brave  heart  preserved  an  equal  trust  in  the  God  of  her  salvation. 
A  sweet  and  winning  piety  was  hers.  It  had  no  glare  about  it, 
and  was  full  of  meekness  and  humility ;  yet  it  was  so  pervading 
it  quickened  every  action  and  purified  every  thought,  it  breathed 
in  every  tone  and  gleamed  in  every  look,  rendering  her  whole 
life  a  sweet  gospel,  full  of  the  savors  of  Christ. 


"Precious  saint !  Across  the  track  of  thirty  years  comes  one 
through  this  sketch  to  pour  his  filial  reverence  and  tears  upon 
your  grave.  The  days  of  youth  are  long  since  passed,  when  he 
was  a  son  in  her  loving  home ;  but  the  memory  of  her,  who  was 
to  him  like  the  sweet  mother  that  first  kissed  his  infant  cheek, 
will  ever  be  as  'ointment  poured  forth.' " 


Days  of  His  College  Training.  6i 

From  the  little  girl  he  taught  in  the  Baxters'  home,  now  Mrs. 
Edgeworth  Bird,  of  Baltimore,  Md.,  we  learn  that  he  used, 
while  in  college,  to  have  not  a  little  time  for  social  duties,  that 
he  wrote  regularly  for  the  Lyceum,  formed  by  the  young 
ladies  of  Athens,  and  to  which  many  of  the  students  were  in- 
vited; that  his  papers  were  full  of  charming  witticisms.  She 
heard  him  read  one  of  these  to  a  brother  of  hers,  also  a  uni- 
versity student,  for  his  criticisms.  It  was  headed,  "Shall  I 
marry  a  missionary?"  Overhearing  it,  she  laughed  out  mer- 
rily at  some  of  its  conceits.  Whereupon  "he  declared  that  he 
felt  sure  his  article  would  at  least  amuse  the  ladies,  if  such  a 
little  tot  could  see  anything  in  it."  Mrs.  Bird  adds,  "The  girls 
of  Athens  were  known  far  and  wide  for  their  beauty  and  the 
students  fully  appreciated  it." 

We  learn  further  from  Mrs.  Bird,  that  while  he  was  in  col- 
lege, though  a  prime  favorite  socially  and  leading  his  class 
intellectually,  he  was  very  faithful  to  all  religious  duties.  "He 
had  a  Sunday  school  in  the  country,  two  miles  from  town,  and 
in  summer's  heat  and  winter's  cold  was  faithful  in  attendance, 
generally  walking  to  and  from  the  school."  "My  father  would 
often  say,"  says  Mrs.  Bird,  "  *Ben,  order  one  of  the  horses, 
and  drive,  or  ride  to  your  school  this  afternoon.'  With  loving 
thanks,  he  usually  declined,  saying  the  walk  would  do  him 
good." 

At  this  time  he  seems  to  have  been,  for  his  vears,  alreadv  an 
able  apologist  for  Christianity j*^  tactful,  resourceful  and  skilful. 

He  had  found  with  this  noble  family  a  thoroughly  congenial 
home,  the  memory  of  which  he  carried  with  him  as  a  precious 
possession  to  the  last. 

His  life  at  the  University  had  been  one  of  great  success — 
splendid  development  and  the  joy  that  comes  of  it.  This  time 
he  returns  to  the  parental  roof  with  the  plaudits  of  his  Fac- 
ulty, his  fellow  students  and  the  whole  university  community 
following  him.  At  home  there  was  no  cold  reception  awaiting 
him.  But  he  was  conscious  of  a  fight  he  had  to  make.  To  his 
broadened  and  broadening  view,  life's  responsibitities  were 
looming  large.  He  had  chosen  to  serve  Christ.  How  was  he 
to  serve  him? 

•  See  the  article  headed  The  Qjnfessions  of  a  Skeptic,  in  the  South- 
western Presbyterian,  May  20,   1869. 


CHAPTER  V. 

STUDENT  FOR  THE  MINISTRY  IN  COLUMBIA  SEMINARY. 

(January  i,  1839— April,  1841.) 

Inclined  to  the  Law. — Decides  to  Study  for  the  Ministry. — En- 
ters Columbia  Seminary,  January,  1839. — ^The  Faculty,  Stu- 
dents, AND  G)URSE  OF   StUDY   AT   THE  TiME. — HiS   CaREER  IN   THE 

Institution. — Influence  of  James  Henley  Thorn  well  on 
HIM. — The  G)mmunity  and  Young  Palmer. — A  Vacation  In- 
cident.— A  Son  of  Consolation. — Miss  Augusta  McConnell.— 
Seminary  Student  Palmer  Courts  Her  in  Spite  of  the  Powers 
THAT  BE. — Leaves  the  Seminary  Walls,  the  Man  of  Pre-Em- 
iNENT  Promise  in  his  Class. 

YOUNG  Palmer  was  strongly  inclined  to  the  profession  of 
the  law.  His  clear  mind,  his  vigorous  powers  as  a  debater, 
his  mastery  of  the  spheres  of  the  pathetic  and  the  sentimental, 
pointed  to  the  most  brilliant  possibilities  as  an  advocate.  These, 
together  with  the  very  high  high  order  of  eloquence  which  he 
commanded,  suggested  a  still  more  splendid  career  should  he, 
after  thorough  study  of  the  law,  give  himself  to  public  life, 
in  the  pursuit  of  statecraft.  Hayne  and  McDuffie^  Drayton, 
and  Petigru,  Hamilton  and  Pinckney,  and  Calhoun,  had 
thrown  the  sheen  of  their  splendor  over  this  latter  sort  of 
course,  making  it  all  the  more  attractive  to  a  young  man  of 
such  distinguished  parts.  Moreover,  of  his  young  friends  in 
the  McPhersonville  neighborhood,  Wm.  F.  Hutson,  and  his 
cousin  Wm.  M.  Hutson,  one  of  whom  was  subsequently  a 
brother-in-law  to  Mr.  Palmer,  were  studying  law  at  the  very 
time  that  he  was  at  Athens  completing  his  academic  studies; 
and  of  his  friends  there,  amongst  the  students,  many  of  the 
most  brilliant  had  chosen  the  legal  profession,  or  were  so  biased 
in  its  favor  that  their  choice  of  it  was  already  practically  de- 
cided. 

But  alluring  as  the  legal  profession  was,  it  had  a  rival  in  his 
heart,  a  rival  more  modest  and  humble,  more  certainly  knit 
to  narrow  worldly  circumstances,  but  very  attractive,  as  con- 
cerned primarily  with  that  which  is  highest  as  well  as  most 
central  in  man,  the  moral  and  spiritual  elements  of  his  nature. 
This  was  the  calling  to  be  a  minister  of  the  Christian  religion. 


Student  for  the  Ministry.  63 

We  see  the  love  for  this  sort  of  work  moving  him  to  lecturing 
in  the  temperance  cause,  and  to  practical  Christian  work  while 
still  a  college  student.  To  be  an  intellectual  toiler  and  to  ex- 
press the  results  of  his  toil  through  speech  to  his  fellows  was 
with  him  a  sort  of  necessity.  To  have  his  heart  most  fully 
in  his  labor  it  was  not  less  necessary  that  he  should  be  spend- 
ing himself  to  lift  man  up  into  a  richer  character  and  life; 
but  he  had  not  yet  come  to  the  full  consciousness  that  this 
was  so.  Hence  he  had  carried  these  rivals  in  his  heart,  from 
the  day  he  had  accepted  Christ,  perhaps,  till  he  walked  forth 
from  his  university  with  her  imprimatur  and  her  honors  upon 
him. 

Some  time  after  August,  1838,  he  became  convinced  that  the 
Great  Head  of  the  Church  had  called  him  to  be  a  preacher  of 
the  Gospel  of  the  grace  of  God. 

A  tradition  long  lingered  in  the  seminary  which  he  was 
soon  to  enter  to  this  effect:  "A  temperance  meeting  was  held 
one  evening  in  a  public  hall  in  Columbia,  S.  C.  When  the  audi- 
ence assembled  there  was  great  disappointment  at  the  absence 
of  some  distinguished  lecturer,  who  had  been  advertised  for  the 
occasion.  As  the  situation  was  becoming  painful  a  gentleman 
rose  to  explain  and  closed  by  making  a  call  for  anyone  present 
who  would  volunteer  to  make  an  address.  A  young  man  came 
forward  to  relieve  the  embarrassment.  When  he  finished  his 
remarks  everybody  was  enquiring.  Who  is  this !  It  came  to  the 
ears  of  some  good  ladies  in  the  city  that  the  young  orator  who 
had  spoken  was  a  candidate  for  the  ministry,  and  on  his  way  to 
one  of  the  upper  districts  to  teach  school  in  order  to  pay  his 
way  through  the  Theological  Seminary.  They  told  him  he 
must  go  at  once  to  the  seminary  and  they  would  pay  his  way."^ 

In  January,  1839,  with  the  purpose  of  preparing  himself 
for  the  ministry,  he  entered  Columbia  Seminary,  an  institution 
which  had  been  put  into  operation  in  1829,  at  Lexington,  Ogle- 
thorpe County,  Georgia,  with  the  Rev.  Thomas  Goulding,  as 
Professor  of  Theology ;  but  which  had  been  moved  to  Colum- 
bia, S.  C,  in  January,  1830;  and  about  a  year  later  to  the 
eligible  site  it  now  occupies  in  the  same  beautiful  city. 

The  buildings  of  the  institution  in  1839  were  very  far  in- 
ferior to  those  which  house  the  institution  at  present,  and 

*This  tradition  was  furnished  by  the  Rev.  Professor  W.  T.  Hall,  of 
Columbia  Seminary,  and  is  here  repeated  in  his  words. 


64         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

were,  indeed,  quite  unpretentious,  but  they  were  sufficient  for 
the  students  and  the  Faculty — the  real  forces  determining  the 
character  of  an  institution. 

The  professors  at  the  time  were  the  Reverends  George 
Howe,  D.D.,  and  A.  W.  Leland,  D.D.  Dr.  Howe,  of  New  Eng- 
land birth  and  Puritan  ancestry,  was  a  man  of  imposing  per- 
sonal appearance,  an  able,  learned  and  accurate  teacher  whose 
instructions  were  greatly  valued  by  his  pupils — a,  man  of  simple 
and  modest  but  lofty  and  beautiful  character,  whose  influence 
upon  his  students  was  very  fine.  Dr.  Leland  was  a  man  of  fine 
lineage,  and  like  Dr.  Howe,  of  fine  connections,  by  marriage 
in  the  State  of  South  Carolina,  though  like  Howe  again,  he  was 
of  New  England  birth.  According  to  Dr.  Joseph  Bardwell,^ 
"Dr.  Leland  was  magnificently  endowed  with  natural  gifts, 
both  mental  and  physical.  In  manly  beauty,  dignity  and  grace, 
he  was  the  admiration,  in  his  youth  and  early  rtianhood,  of  all 
who  knew  him ;  and  with  a  mind  vigorous  and  strong,  and  well 
stored  with  knowledge,  and  an  imagination  vivid  and  powerful, 
coupled  with  a  heart  susceptible  of  the  most  intense  emotion, 
he  could  impress  all  who  came  within  the  charmed  sphere  of 
his  influence.  His  majestic  form,  courtly  manners,  a  voice 
which  was  harmony  itself,  and  a  style  cultivated  and  fervid, 
made  an  impression  upon  those  who  heard  him  not  soon  to  be 
forgotten.  As  a  reader  of  Scripture  and  sacred  song  in  pub- 
lic worship,  he  surpassed  in  excellence  all  whom  we  have  ever 
heard."  "He  could  win  the  attention  and  charm  the  hearers 
as  he  read  the  sacred  page  with  that  fitting  modulation  and  em- 
phasis which  interpreted  it  as  he  read,  ere  he  opened  his  lips 
to  set  forth  in  his  own  often  eloquent  and  persuasive  words 
the  truth  of  God." 

These  two  men  were  then  in  their  prime,  Howe  being  in  his 
thirty-seventh,  and  Leland  in  his  fifty-first  year.  While  of 
Northern  birth,  they  were  in  thorough  sympathy  with  Southern 
ideals  and  wedded  to  the  section  of  their  adoption.  Later  on 
in  their  careers,  Columbia  Seminary  was  to  receive  into  her 
faculty  men  who  should  add  mightily  to  its  efficiency  and  dis- 
tinction. But  in  the  days  of  smaller  things  Howe  and  Leland 
were  doing  a  very  valuable  work. 

There  seem  to  have  been  about  thirty-two  students  attending 
the  seminary  when  Mr.  Palmer  entered;  amongst  them,  J.  C. 

*  Semi-centennial  of  Columbia  Seminary,  pp.  207-208. 


Student  for  the  Ministry.  65 

Brown,  H.  B.  Cunningham,  John  Jones,  T.  L.  McBryde,  Wil- 
liam Banks,  James  R.  Gilland,  E.  F.  Rockwell,  Neill  McKay, 
James  B.  Dunwody,  W.  C.  Emerson,  George  Cooper  Gregg, 
and  others  whose  names  have  long  been  held  in  high  honor 
throughout  our  Southern  country. 

As  to  the  course  of  study  pursued  by  Columbia  Seminary 
at  the  time,  it  is  enough  to  say  that  Dr.  Howe  had  been  largely 
instrumental  in  planning  the  curriculimi ;  that  he  had  been  edu- 
cated at  Andover,  in  theology,  and  that  he  made  the  Columbia 
course  the  practical  equal  of  the  current  Andover  course ;  and 
that  he  had  done  his  part  of  the  teaching  with  such  distinction 
that  the  directors  of  Union  Theological  Seminary,  in  New  York 
City,  had,  in  1836,  called  him  to  the  professorship  of  Sacred 
Literature  in  their  institution. 

Mr.  B.  M.  Palmer  was,  according  to  most  reliable  tradi- 
tions, a  distinguished  student  in  his  class,  holding  the  same  rel- 
ative place  in  this  body  of  men  that  he  had  held  in  his  univer- 
sity class.  He  maintained,  also,  and  probably  increased  his  rep- 
utation for  eloquence. 

Such  productions  of  his  pen  as  have  come  down  from  this 
period  seem  to  indicate  very  clearly  that  he  not  only  prepared 
with  great  labor  and  care  for  all  public  exercises  but  that  he 
was  laying  broad  and  deep  the  foundations  of  theological 
knowledge.  From  these  may  be  taken  as  illustrative  a  sermon 
on  Rom.  5:19:  For  as  by  one  man's  disobedience  many  were 
made  sinners,  so  by  the  obedience  of  one  shall  many  be  made 
righteous."  The  preacher  begins  by  setting  forth  the  con- 
nection of  his  text  with  the  general  argument  of  the  epistle; 
and  by  marking  the  stage  of  the  Apostle's  reasoning,  brings  to 
notice  the  peculiar  aspect  which  the  doctrine  assumes  in  the 
words  of  his  text.  He  then  declares  that  in  these  words  "the 
apostle  unfolds  briefly  but  clearly  the  broad  principle  upon 
which  is  based  the  whole  process  of  reconciliation  with  God ;" 
and  that  the  "leading  doctrine  brought  before  our  notice  is  that 
of  Justification  which  is  effected  by  the  imputation  of  the  right- 
eousness of  Christ ;"  and  that  in  the  explication  of  this  text  we 
are  led  to  consider : 

1.  What  the  Scriptural  doctrine  of  imputation  is. 

2.  Upon  what  general  principle  it  is  founded. 

3.  What  is  imputed  to  the  sinner  in  order  to  his  justification. 

4.  The  persons  to  whom  this  imputation  extends. 

In  his  explication  and  proof  of  the  answers  of  these  ques- 
5 


66         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

tions  he  discloses  a  commanding  grasp  of  the  returns  that  had 
been  rendered  by  the  best  theological  thought  of  the  past. 
There  is  no  reference  to  learned  names;  there  is  something 
better.  He  has  read  and  assimilated  and  fused  in  the  crucible 
of  his  own  thought.  The  discussion  is  full,  elaborate  and  able. 
His  style  is  much  like  his  later  style,  his  periods  sonorous  and 
well  balanced.  In  the  conclusion  he  presses  four  thoughts: 
(i)  "How  dire  and  evil  sin  is,*'  as  this  subject  shows;  (2) 
"The  utter  hopelessness  of  satisfaction  by  any  deeds  of  the 
law;"  (3)  "This  doctrine  of  justification  by  imputed  righteous- 
ness affords  no  shelter  for  the  slothful  or  stubborn  sinner;  it 
is  a  mere  statement  of  his  judicial  relations  to  the  law  of  God ;" 
(4)  "This  subject  exhibits  the  Christian's  security  by  showing 
the  basis  upon  which  it  rests.  All  his  hopes  spring  from  the 
original  covenant  of  grace  which  was  framed  without  respect  to 
merit  or  demerit  in  himself,  and  which  cannot  therefore  be  con- 
tingent." 

The  whole  discussion  covers  about  twenty-eight  pages.  The 
pages  will  average  three  hundred  words  to  the  page.  For  its 
delivery  seventy  minutes  would  be  required  at  the  rate  of  one 
hundred  and  twenty  words  to  the  minute.  As  he  was  a  deliber- 
ate speaker,  he  occupied  perhaps  one  hour  and  twenty  minutes 
in  its  delivery. 

At  the  close  of  the  sermon  occur  the  words,  "Approved,  Feb. 
1841."  From  notes  on  the  cover  it  is  learned  that  he  preached 
it  in  Charleston,  in  the  Second  Presbyterian  Church,  April  10, 
1841,  and  in  Columbia,  First  Presbyterian  Church,  May  9, 
1841.  He  perhaps  used  it  on  the  occasion  in  Charleston  as  a 
part  of  trial  before  his  Presbytery,  as  he  was  licensed  in  April 
of  1841,  by  the  Presbytery  of  Charleston. 

Next  to  the  influence  of  the  Seminary  on  young  Palmer,  at 
this  time,  must  be  mentioned  that  of  James  Henley  Thornwell. 
In  the  year  1839,  Thornwell  was  still  Professor  of  Metaphys- 
ics in  the  College  of  South  Carolina,  but  he  frequently  filled  the 
pulpit  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  Columbia.  During 
the  year  1840  he  was  pastor  of  that  church.  Somewhat  as  to 
the  influence  which  Thornwell  exerted  over  him  he  has  himself 
disclosed  as  follows: 

^'It'was  at  this  period  that  the  writer's  acquaintance  with  his  friend 
began;  though  his  own  position  as  a  divinity  student  did  not  warrant 
the    intimacy   which    was   enjoyed   a    little   later,   when   brought   into 


^ 


Student  for  the  Ministry.  67 

the  relation  of  a  co-presbyter.  The  impression  will  never  be  erased 
of  the  first  discourse  to  which  he  listened,  in  the  year  1839.  A  thin, 
spare  form,  with  a  slight  stoop  in  the  shoulders,  stood  in  the  desk, 
with  soft  black  hair  falling  obliquely  over  the  forehead,  and  a  small 
eye,  with  a  wonderful  gleam  when  it  was  lighted  by  the  inspiration  of 
his  theme.  The  devotional  services  offered  nothing  peculiar,  beyond 
a  quiet  simplicity  and  reverence.  The  reading  was,  perhaps,  a  trifle 
monotonous,  and  the  prayer  was  marked  rather  by  correctness  and 
method,  than  by  fervor  or  fulness.  But  from  the  opening  of  the 
discourse,  there  was  a  strange  fascination,  such  as  had  never  been 
exercised  by  any  other  speaker.  The  subject  was  doctrinal,  and  Dr. 
Thorn  well,  who  was  bom  into  the  ministry  at  the  height  of  a  great 
controversy,  had  on,  then,  the  wiry  edge  of  his  youth.  The  first  im- 
pression made  was  that  of  being  stunned  by  a  peculiar  dogmatism  in 
the  statement  of  what  seemed  weighty  propositions;  this  was  fol- 
lowed by  a  conscious  resistence  of  the  authority  which  was  felt  to  be 
a  little  brow-beating  with  its  positiveness ;  and  then,  as  link  after 
link  was  added  to  the  chain  of  a  consistent  argument,  expressed  with 
that  agonistic  fervor  which  belongs  to  the  forum,  the  effect  at  the  close 
was  to  overwhelm  and  subdue.  'Who  is  this  preacher?'  was  asked 
of  a  neighbor  in  one  of  the  pauses  of  the  discourse.  'That  is  Mr. 
Thomwell;  don't  you  know  him?'"* 

There  can  be  no  question  that  there  v^rere  great  differences 
between  the  mental  constitutions  of  these  two  men.  Palmer  ex- 
celled in  his  capacities  as  a  word  painter  and  in  dealing  with 
the  sentimental  and  pathetic;  Thornwell  in  the  power  of  reas- 
oning, and  speculative  thought.  But  there  can  be  as  little  ques- 
tion that  they  were  enough  alike  for  Thornwell  to  mould 
Palmer  to  a  considerable  degree.  To  this  influence  is  perhaps, 
to  be  traced  the  theological  type  of  his  preaching  that  prevailed 
far  along  in  his  life;  and  to  this  influence  other  habits  and 
views  which  we  shall  have  occasion  to  note  in  the  sequel.  It 
is  hard  to  estimate  the  influence  of  such  a  tremendous  mental 
and  moral  force  as  Thornwell  was  on  a  mind  and  heart  so 
sensitive,  responsive  and  aspiring,  so  keen,  strong  and  inde- 
pendent as  young  Palmer's.  Thornwell  unconsciously  became, 
unawares  it  may  be  to  Palmer,  his  model,  yet  in  no  cramping 
way.  Palmer's  individuality  was  too  strong  to  follow  Thorn- 
well in  aught  else  than  what  met  his  judgment's  approval. 

In  addition  to  the  special  training  which  he  received  in  Co- 
lumbia Seminary,  and  the  highly  stimulating  influence  derived 

•  Palmer,  Life  and  Letters  of  James  Henley  Thornwell,  p.  154. 


y 


68         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

from  Dr.  Thomwell,  Mr.  Palmer  profited  by  the  general  culture 
of  tiie  people  of  the  community  and  city.  Naturally  the  homes 
of  the  very  best  people  were  open  to  him.  He  was  always 
scrupulously  neat  in  dress,  from  his  nicely  booted  foot  to  the 
hat  that  crowned  his  head.  Indeed,  there  is  a  tradition  that  he 
had  had  as  a  youth  such  a  desire  for  luxurious  and  showy 
dressing  that  it  had  stood  in  the  way  for  some  time  of  his 
deciding  for  the  ministry.  Having  decided  for  that  calling 
and  thrown  to  the  winds  his  longing  for  the  more  ornate  forms 
and  features  of  dress,  he  gave  to  the  care  of  his  person  and 
clothing  just  about  the  proper  attention  to  make  him  acceptable 
to  every  taste  worth  considering.  His  bearing  toward  all 
classes  commended  him  again  to  their  good  graces.  He  pos- 
sessed a  large  deference  for  that  which  is  primal  and  rudi- 
mental  in  man  and  woman,  hence  he  treated  all  with  respect 
and  consideration ;  while  to  virtuous  talent  he  had  still  larger 
homage  to  render.  He  was  easily  and  naturally  at  home  with 
all  classes  of  men  and  women.  With  women  indeed,  this 
homely  but  elegant  and  graceful  little  gentleman  was  always  a 
prime  favorite.  He  was  a  born  fighter,  but  he  fought  so  grace- 
fully and  with  such  respect  for  his  adversary  that  he  naturally 
became  to  his  female  friends  a  sort  of  knight.  His  bearing 
toward  them,  while  restrained,  was  ever  considerate.  They 
had  a  right  to  admire  his  fine  speaking  eyes,  and  his  grace  of 
body,  but  were  you  to  listen  to  them  you  woi;l(l  imagine  that 
Mr.  Benjamin  M.  Palmer  was  not  a  homely  little  gentleman, 
but  a  veritable  Apollo  in  looks,  a  Mercury  in  speech,  and  alto- 
gether a  sort  of  incarnation  of  the  angelic,  cherubic  and  se- 
raphic. Some  of  them  might  admit  that  on  first  sight,  indeed, 
he  had  not  appeared  prepossessing ;  but  his  speech  and  manner 
transformed  him. 

It  was  certainly  not  to  his  discredit  that  he  again  paid  for 
his  table  board  in  an  excellent  family  by  teaching  the  younger 
children  of  the  family.  Nor  do  we  think  the  less  of  him  as 
we  see  him  in  the  vacation  of  1840  acting  as  agent  for  a  tem- 
perance paper  and  making  temperance  addresses  and  talks  on 
Christianity  as  opportunity  oflFered.  One  such  glimpse  is  given 
us  by  the  Reverend  and  Venerable  R.  H.  Reid,  Reidsville,  S.  C. 
He  writes :  * 

*In   letter   bearing   date   April    13,    1904. 


Student  for  the  Ministry.  69 

"The  first  time  I  met  Dr.  Palmer  was  in  1840.  He  was  a  student  in 
Theological  Seminary  in  Columbia,  and  an  agent  for  the  Temperance 
Advocate,  published  in  Columbia.  My  father,  Andrew  Reid  was  an 
elder  in  the  Good  Hope  Church,  in  Anderson  County,  South  Carolina. 
Palmer  called  on  him  and  made  known  his  business.  He  was  invited 
to  make  his  home  with  us  while  he  canvassed  the  congregation.  He 
remained  over  Sabbath  and  conducted  a  service,  the  pastor,  Rev. 
David  Humphries,  being  absent.  He  made  a  deep  impression  on  me. 
I  remember  his  theme  distinctly — Blind  Bartimaeus, — ^although  more 
than  fifty  years  have  passed  since  I  heard  his  lecture." 

That  already  at  this  early  age,  he  had  begun  to  develop  as 
a  son  of  consolation,  is  shown  by  the  following  letter  to  Mrs. 
Bazile  Lanneau,  written  upon  the  occasion  of  the  death  of  her 
brother,  I.  S.  K.  Palmer,  M.D.,  and  of  her  sister  Jane  Keith 
Palmer : 

"Columbia,  S.  C,  March  30,  1830. 

"Dear  Cousin   S. ;     Although   it   is   delightful   for   friends 

and  relations  to  commune  together,  I  almost  fear  that  I  will  give  you 
more  pain  than  pleasure  by  writing  at  this  time:  for  it  would  be 
unnatural  to  write  and  not  to  allude  to  the  affliction  which  has  thrown 
so  deep  a  gloom  over  our  family.  How  poignant  must  be  your  sorrow ! 
I  can  very  easily  conceive  from  the  recollection  of  the  anguish  which  I 
saw  you  endure  at  the  time  of  dear  Jane's  death ;  and  yet  in  both  cases 
you  cannot  sorrow  as  'those  who  have  no  hope.* 

"It  is  indeed  melancholy  and  even  painful  to  behold  the  family 
circle  narrowing  its  limits  and  approaching  as  it  were  annihilation: 
still  this  is  only  one  of  the  illusions  of  sense.  It  does  not  necessarily 
follow  that  those  whom  we  bury  are  dead — for  Christians  never  die; 
as  the  poet  says,  they  only  'languish  into  life.'  Were  we  utterly  ig- 
norant of  the  truths  of  revelation  and  possessed  only  those  ideas  re- 
specting time  and  eternity  which  nature  may  teach  I  would  unhesitat- 
ingly pronounce  him  most  happy  who  soonest  escapes  from  life  and  its 
sorrows.  But  having  the  Bible  and  believing  its  declarations  respect- 
ing this  world  and  the  next,  our  views  of  death  must  be  altered  with  it. 
Yet  even  now  there  is  but  one  class  of  persons  whose  death  we  can 
properly  bewail,  viz:  those  who  are  heirs  to  no  hope  beyond  the  grave. 
Truly  I  would  weep  over  the  tomb  of  such  an  one,  for  he  is  banished 
from  God,  disinherited  and  dies  the  second  death.  But  those  who  in 
life  had  been  adopted  into  God's  elect  family,  death  is  not  death  to 
such — dying  is  but  going  home — it  is  a  mere  transferrence  of  abode. 
No  doubt,  dear  Cousin  S.,  you  view  dear  Keith's  death  in  this  light: 
and  it  affords  you  sweet  comfort.  Suppose  he  had  moved  to  Arkansas, 
and  had  there  settled :  you  would  have  sorrowed  at  the  parting  but  you 
would  not  have  grieved  and  afflicted  your  soul,  'refusing  to  be  com- 
forted.'    Now,  where  is  the  difference  to  you  between  his  going  to 


70         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Arkansas  and  his  going  to  heaven,  except  that  you  know  he  is  far 
safer  and  happier  in  the  latter  place?  In  the  former  case  you  would 
still  have  regarded  him  as  living,  as  still  a  member  of  the  family,  as 
still  your  brother,  but  in  the  latter  case  he  assuredly  lives  in  a  higher 
sense :  moreover,  if  we  are  the  children  of  God  he  is  still  a  member  of 
the  same  family  with  ourselves — for  the  Scriptures,  speaking  of  the 
Lord  Jesus  Christ,  add  in  a  parenthesis  this  phrase — 'of  whom  the 
whole  family  in  heaven  and  earth  is  named/  Hence  it  follows  that 
God's  family  includes  not  only  those  who  Wait  around  the  throne,  but 
also  those  who  upon  earth  are  still  struggling  with  sin — and,  dear 
cousin,  the  final  conclusion  to  which  I  would  come  is  this:  when  our 
brothers  and  sisters  'die  in  the  Lord,'  we  should  not  think  of  them  as 
dead  but  rather  as  essentially  living  and  that  they  still  are  (not  were) 
our  brothers  and  sisters.  The  only  difference  is  that  they  are  at  home, 
whereas  we  are  away  from  home.  Yet  as  we  are  upon  our  journey 
homeward,  the  day  of  separation  is  but  short,  and  we  shall  all  be 
reunited  in  one  unbroken  family  in  an  eternal  home,  where  there  shall 
be  no  more  wandering — no  more  parting. 

"I  feel,  dear  Cousin  S.,  that  I  do  an  unnecessary  thing  when  I 
dwell  upon  these  common,  yet  never  failing,  topics  of  consolation. 
They  have  all  passed  through  your  mind  a  hundred  times,  and  have  as 
often  brought  peace  to  your  troubled  heart.  Still  it  is  delightful  thus 
to  recall  and  to  feed  upon  the  comfort  which  the  Bible  affords,  and 
when  my  thoughts  assume  this  complexion  life  and  all  its  concerns 
shrink  into  their  proper  compass,  and  I  can  realize  to  some  extent 
that  for  *me  to  live  is  Christ,  but  to  die  is  gain.' 

"But  I  must  close  these  hastily  written  lines.  I  expect  in  a  few 
moments  to  go  into  the  country  a  short  distance  to  harangue  upon 
temperance,  and  that  I  have  acquitted  myself  lamely,  attribute  partly  to 
the  fact  that  I  write  amidst  company  in  the  very  'strife  of  tongues.'  .  .  . 

"In  very  great  haste,  yet  with  very  much  affection 

"Your  cousin,  B.  M.  Palmer." 

Benjamin  M.  Palmer  had  been  accused,  while  a  university 
student,  of  always  being  in  love.  His  removal  from  the  univer- 
sity to  the  Seminary  cloister  did  not  break  the  force  of  the 
prcxrlivity ;  or  if  so,  it  broke  it  only  for  a  time.  Here  he  found 
the  love  of  his  life.  It  is  necessary  to  pause  at  this  point  for  a 
moment  and  to  trace  briefly  the  source  and  history  of  the  life 
that  was  to  flow  so  richly  into  his. 

Dr.  Robert  McConnell,  of  Walthourville,  Ga.,  had  mar- 
ried Sarah  Ann  Walthour,  daughter  of  Mr.  Andrew  Wal- 
thour  and  his  wife,  Ann  Hoffmire  Walthour.  To  Dr.  and 
Mrs.  McConnell  two  children  were  bom,  Mary  Augusta,  and 
Blak^ley.    When  his  little  girl  was  only  four  years  of  age  and 


L 


.M^ 


Student  for  the  Ministry.  71 

his  little  boy  only  two  years  old,  Dr.  McConnell  died,  leaving 
their  mother  a  widow  of  twenty-one  years.  The  young  widow 
remained  on  her  plantation  with  her  children  for  about  four 
years.  Then,  desiring  to  bring  them  up  in  an  atmosphere  of 
learning  and  culture,  she  carried  them  to  Hartford,  Conn. ; 
but  after  a  year  or  so,  the  little  boy  was  drowned  in  the 
Connecticut  River.  This  second  bereavement  drove  Mrs.  Mc- 
Connell back  to  her  Southern  home. 

In  December,  1836,  she  married  as  her  second  husband, 
Prof.  George  Howe  of  Columbia  Seminary.  She  continued  the 
education  of  her  daughter,  placing  her  in  the  then  famous 
boarding  school  for  young  ladies  at  Barhamville,  about  five 
miles  from  Columbia.  It  was  the  custom  of  "Miss  Augusta" 
to  return  home  every  Friday  evening  and  to  remain  until  Mon- 
day morning.  She  was,  when  Mr.  Benjamin  Palmer  ap- 
peared in  Columbia,  a  slender  girl  of  about  seventeen  summers, 
good  to  look  at;  of  medium  height;  of  very  fair  complexion, 
possessed  a  rare  combination  of  very  blue  eyes  and  black  hair. 
She  was  quiet  and  dignified  in  manners,  but  a  general  favorite, 
a  girl  whom  all  could  trust  in  and  depend  on ;  one  that  could 
be  counted  on  to  show  capacity  .to  meet  emergencies,  too. 

Dr.  Palmer  used  to  tell  the  story  that  before  he  met  "Miss 
Augusta,"  a  friend  from  another  city  who  had  hoped  to  woo 
her  for  himself  wrote  to  him  of  his  hopes;  told  him  that  he 
was  uneasy  lest  some  one  else  should  win  the  girl  of  his  choice ; 
and  begged  him  to  keep  an  eye  on  her  friends  and  to  warn  him 
if  he  saw  danger  ahead.  Young  Palmer  wrote  him  at  once 
that  he  would  never  play  spy  on  any  girl,  and  could  not  do  as 
asked. 

It  is  supposed  that  the  young  seminarian  and  the  fair  board- 
ing school  miss  first  met  on  occasion  of  one  of  her  weekly 
visits  to  the  parental  roof.  The  very  correspondence  he  had 
had  about  her  tended  to  interest  him  in  her,  and  as  already 
remarked,  it  was  not  hard  to  interest  him  in  a  handsome  girl. 
It  is  understood  that  in  later  years  she  occasionally  admitted 
that  she  was  really  quite  desirous  to  meet  Mr.  Palmer;  that 
her  curiosity  had  been  excited  about  him  by  the  praises  she 
heard  heaped  upon  him  as  a  student,  and  a  speaker  of  great 
eloquence  and  power,  as  a  man  of  the  most  agreeable  manners, 
elegant  dress,  graceful  and  courtly  carriage.  Very  soon  there 
was  a  mutually  developing  attachment  between  these  two  young 
people. 


y2         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

The  course  of  true  love  was  not  to  run  perfectly  smooth 
in  their  case.  From  the  moment  when  Dr.  Howe  saw  that  there 
were  signs  of  a  mutual  attachment  between  these  two,  he  com- 
bated the  cause  of  the  young  man  with  his  stepdaughter.  He 
declined  to  give  his  consent  to  an  engagement,  and  forbade 
their  meeting.  He  had  other  plans  touching  his  daughter;  a 
future  which  he  believed  to  be  far  better  for  her.  He  hoped  to 
see  her  comfortably  settled  as  the  wife  of  some  Christian 
gentleman  of  means  and  dignity  of  circumstance.  The  pastor's 
wife  must  usually  look  forward  to  much  self-denial,  to  a  life- 
long struggle  with  relative  poverty.  These  young  people,  how- 
ever, were  quite  as  determined  as  Dr.  Howe.  They  chose  for 
themselves,  openly  met,  and  continued  the  exchange  of  notes 
all  through  a  two  years'  engagement.  Mr.  Palmer  would  carry 
Miss  McConnell  to  church,  picking  her  up  at  a  neighbor's ;  and 
together  they  would  sit  under  the  very  nose  of  the  Reverend 
guardian  as  he  preached  from  the  sacred  desk.  Mr.  Palmer 
would  carry  his  fiancee  back  to  the  neighbor's  house;  thence 
she  would  walk  demurely  home. 

The  day  was  to  come  when  the  young  man  would  squarely 
ask  the  middle-aged  man  where  the  marriage  was  to  take  place, 
informing  him  quietly  that  barring  divine  interference,  it  cer- 
tainly would  take  place.  Many  a  year  later  when  the  plaudits 
were  being  heaped  upon  her  husband  by  her  stepfather  and 
those  who  had  sided  with  him,  the  lips  of  the  girl,  now  long  a 
wife  and  mother,  would  curl  a  little,  and  she  would  say  to  a 
neighbor,  "Yes,  they  are  proud  enough  of  him  now,  but  once 
they  tried  to  separate  us." 

During  this  period  our  subject  had  done  at  least  two  things 
well  worth  doing :  He  had  given  himself  to  his  work  of  prep- 
aration with  such  diligence  and  success  as  to  lay  broad  the 
foundations  of  theological  knowledge,  and  had  «o  met  all  pub- 
lic engagements  as  to  create  the  highest  expectations  of  his 
usefulness  and  success  as  a  preacher ;  and  he  had  won  the  love 
of  a  virtuous  woman,  whose  price  was  far  above  rubies,  and 
who  would  do  him  good  and  not  evil  all  the  days  of  his  life. 

In  the  next  chapter  we  shall  follow  him  into,  and  through 
his  first  pastorate,  see  him  take  to  his  little  home  the  girl  whose 
love  he  had  won,  and  look  upon  them  in  their  youthful  hap- 
piness and  in  the  sunrise  of  his,  and  their,  career. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

PASTOR  OF  THE  FIRST  PRESBYTERIAN  CHURCH  AT 

SAVANNAH. 
(November,   1841 — January,   1843.) 

Licentiate  Palmer  Tries  his  Gifts. — Is  Called  to  the  First  Pres- 
byterian Church,  Savannah,  Ga. — Marries  Miss  McCon- 
nell. — Carries  Her  in  a  Buggy  from  Columbia  to  Savannah. — 
The  Beginning  of  Their  Home-Making. — He  had  in  Savan- 
nah a  Fine  Church  for  a  Young  Man  of  his  Parts. — Was 
Ordained  and  Installed  Pastor,  March  6,  1842. — Threw  H[M- 
self  Zealously  into  his  Work. — Prepared  his  Sermons  in  a 
Most  Laborious  Way. — Was  Forced  to  Change  his  Methods  of 
Preparation  and  Delivery. — ^Consequent  Broader  Work  as  a 
Student. — Did  Vigorous  Pastoral  Workj— Evinced  Determi- 
nation IN  Deaung  with  his  People. — ^Did  Outside  Work. — His 
Churches  Prospered  Under  his  Pastorate.— He  was  Called  to 
THE  Pastorate  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  Columbia 

MR.  BENJAMIN  M.  PALMER  was  not  one  of  those  can- 
didates who  wait  for  a  "suitable  place"  in  which  to  exer- 
cisce  their  gifts.  Having  been  offered  temporary  work  in  An- 
derson, the  county  seat  of  that  county  in  which,  a  few  months 
before,  he  had  sought  subscribers  for  the  Temperance  Advocate 
and  made  temperance  addresses  and  delivered  Christian  lec- 
tures, he  repaired  to  the  field  as  early  as  the  midsummer  fol- 
lowing the  completion  of  his  seminary  course.  It  gave  him  a 
place  to  work  and  to  do  the  best  that  was  in  him  under  the  cir- 
cumstances; and  if  the  Lord  had  a  more  important  work  for 
him  to  do  he  would  be  able  to  find  him  in  his  own  way  and  at 
the  right  time  in  the  little  town  of  Anderson. 

The  Rev.  R.  H.  Reid  gives  us  a  glimpse  of  Mr.  Palmer's 
work  in  Anderson.    He  says : 

"After  his  licensure,  he  supplied  the  church  in  Anderson  for  a  short 
while.  I  was  a  pupil  of  Wesley  Leverett's  famous  classical  school 
in  that  place.  There  was  a  protracted  meeting  in  the  church  conducted 
by  Mr.  Palmer.  A  goodly  number  confessed  Christ  and  united  with 
the  church.    I  was  among  the  number." 

We  have  proof  in  these  words  that  he  did  an  important  work 


74         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

in  Anderson.  Its  importance  will  appear  more  fully  in  the 
sequel. 

He  was  allowed  to  remain  there  only  three  months.  As  early 
as  October  i,  1841,  overtures  were  made  him  to  become  the  pas- 
tor of  the  First  Church  of  Savannah,  Ga.  As  Savannah  was 
in  a  different  Presbytery  from  that  to  which  he  belonged, 
some  time  was  consumed  before  the  "call  could  be  formally 
placed  in  his  hands. 

Meanwhile,  assured  of  a  modest  living  for  himself  and  a 
wife,  he  returned  to  Columbia,  waited  on  Dr.  Howe,  informed 
him  that  he  and  Miss  Augusta  McConnell  proposed  an  early 
marriage,  but  did  not  know  whether  they  could  plan  to  have  it 
in  her  mother's  home  or  not.  He  had  come,  he  said,  to  Dr. 
Howe  to  learn.  Good  Dr.  Howe  was  a  wise  man  as  well  as  a 
good  one.  He  had  already  seen  that  opposition  was  useless, 
and,  indeed,  he  was  not  certain  that  the  match  was  so  altogether 
poor  after  all.  Palmer  was  poor  but  of  vast  promise.  Dr. 
Howe  assured  him  most  kindly  that  the  marriage  could  take 
place  nowhere  else  than  in  his  own  home.  So  the  young  people 
were  married  October  7,  1841 ;  and  by  the  Rev.  Professor 
George  Howe. 

A  few  days  after  the  wedding,  they  made  their  journey 
across  the  country  to  Savannah  in  a  bugg>%  presented  to  them 
by  Dr.  Howe  as  a  wedding  gift.  The  trousseaux  of  the  bride 
and  groom  and  the  library  with  which  he  was  to  begin  his  work 
in  Savannah  were  all  packed  into  one  small  trunk,  which  was 
strapped  on  the  hinder  part  of  the  buggy.  He  had  ten  dollars 
in  his  pocket.  Their  leaving  Columbia  had  in  it  both  bitter  and 
sweet.  To  the  lithe,  swarth,  determined,  talented  young  man 
it  meant  less  of  bitter,  though  sentiment  drew  him  back  to  his 
last  and  best-beloved  Alma  Mater.  To  the  young  girl-bride,  it 
meant  more  of  the  bitter.  She  was  parting  for  the  first  time 
from  the  mother.  As  they  drove  the  first  morning  the  tears 
flowed  so  freely  from  the  young  wife's  eyes  that  the  husband 
was  disturbed.  After  a  time  he  felt  constrained  to  say  that,  if 
the  trial  was  so  great,  they  had  better  return  to  Columbia,  and 
he  go  on  alone  to  Savannah  This  startling  proposal  was  just 
the  thing  needed  to  tone  up  the  wifely  feeling.  That  plan 
looked  more  dreadful  than  leaving  the  motlier.  Pretty  soon 
smiles  chased  the  tears  away. 

Well  attested  tradition  says  that  the  pair  really  enjoyed  that 
trip  in  the  beautiful  October  weather,  through  the  ever  varying 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  75 

vistas  of  October  foliage.  It  was  not  yet  the  age  of  the  Pull- 
man palace  car  and  the  Saratoga.  It  was  not  even  the  age 
of  long  railways.  There  was  absolutely  nothing  of  the  kind 
between  Savannah  and  Columbia.  They  did  not  feel  the  need 
of  it.  He  was  twenty-three,  she  was  three  or  four  years 
younger.  They  were  not  poor.  God  had  richly  endowed  them 
with  health  and  strength,  and  genius,  and  energy  and  character. 
They  went  to  a  sufficient,  if  modest,  living;  to  a  position  of 
honor  and  esteem  which  .God  would  enable  them  to  fill.  So 
on  over  the  country  roads  toward  Savannah  they  drove,  close 
to  nature,  sympathizing  with  it,  a  part  of  it,  close  to  each  other, 
conscious  also  of  being  the  children  of  God.  They  reached  the 
city  safely. 

For  several  months  during  the  first  part  of  the  period  in 
Savannah,  they  boarded  in  the  family  of  Mr.  Joseph  Cum- 
mings,  one  of  the  elders  of  his  church.  Then,  in  view  of  the 
expected  advent  of  an  important  addition  to  the  family,  they 
rented  a  little  cottage,  and  set  up  housekeeping  in  it.  It  is  safe 
to  say  that  the  housekeeping  was  good,  perhaps  excellent,  from 
the  start.  Mrs.  Howe  had  been  a  housekeeper  whose  ideal  it 
was  to  make  a  home  where  her  husband  and  children  and  the 
passing  stranger  could  find  health  and  comfort  flowing  daily 
as  from  a  living  well,  and  in  which  her  husband  could  do  his 
work  unhindered.  Mrs.  Palmer  was  afterwards  able  to  do  the 
same  sort  of  housekeeping,  and  perhaps  was  thus  competent 
from  the  start.  She  possessed  one  great  advantage,  however, 
over  the  young  wives  who  go  to  housekeeping  to-day ;  they  took 
with  them  to  that  little  cottage  "Caroline,"  a  young  slave 
woman,  who  had  grown  up  in  the  house  of  Mrs.  Palmer's 
mother.  She  was  about  the  same  age  as  Mrs.  Palmer  herself. 
She  became  at  once  their  maid  of  all  work.  She  must  have 
been  of  capital  stuff.  She  remained  with  them  a  faithful  and 
efficient  servant  not  only  while  negro  slavery  lasted,  but  till 
her  mistress  had  died  in  1888,  and  then  continued  to  live  in 
the  broken  household  till  her  own  death  six  years  later. 

Into  this  little  home  came  to  bless  it,  and  through  it,  thou- 
sands of  other  homes,  a  little  child.  He  came  July  26,  1842,  a 
little  hazel-eyed  stranger  with  the  imprint  of  the  father  strongly 
upon  him.  The  father  has  given  the  following  account  of 
the  child's  arrival  and  of  the  emotions  with  which  he  was  re- 
ceived : 


76         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

''The  morning  was  opening  its  eye  in  the  first  gray  streak  upon  the 
horizon,  when  a  faint  cry  issued  from  an  upper  chamber  in  one  of  our 
Southern  cities.  Instantly  the  hurried  steps  were  arrested  of  one 
pacing  uneasily  to  and  fro  in  the  hall  beneath.  It  was  a  cry  which, 
when  once  heard,  is  never  forgotten;  the  low,  flat  wail  of  a  babe  just 
entering  a  world  to  which  it  is  a  stranger — ^the  symbol  of  pain,  pre- 
monitory of  all  it  must  suffer  between  the  cradle  and  the  grave.  It 
fell  now,  for  the  first  time,  upon  ears  which  had  ached  through  the 
weary  night  to  catch  the  sound.  The  long  suspense  was  over;  and  the 
deep  sjrmpathy  which  had  taken  up  into  the  soul  the  anguish  that 
another  felt  in  the  body,  gave  place  to  exultation  when  the  great  peril 
was  passed.  The  young  father  bowed  himself  on  the  spot  where  he 
stood,  and  poured  out  an  overcharged  heart  in  grateful  praise  to  Him 
who  had  softened  the  curse  to  'woman,'  who,  'being  deceived  was  in 
the  trangression,'  by  the  gracious  'Notwithstanding  she  shall  be  saved 
in  childbearing,  if  they  continue  in  faith  and  charity  and  holiness  with 
sobriety/ 

"Solemn  thoughts  crowded  together  in  the  first  parental  conscious- 
ness; thoughts  that  deepened  in  significance  afterwards  but  never  are 
so  startling  as  when  they  rush  upon  the  soul  in  the  first  experience  of 
the  new  relation.  Shall  they  be  embalmed  in  speech?  Thousands  in 
the  rehearsal  will  recall  the  earliest  flush  of  these  emotions. 

"  'Little  miniature  of  myself — ^bone  and  flesh  of  my  own  substance — 
to  whom  I  stand,  as  the  instrumental  cause  of  thy  being,  a  secondary 
creator!'  claiming  by  equal  right  the  ancestral  name,  and  wresting  it 
from  me  when  I  am  low  in  death !  Soon  to  be  strong  and  tall  as  I — 
coming  each  day  more  into  the  foreground  and  pushing  me  nearer  to 
the  edge  over  which  I  must  topple  at  the  last!  Sole  occupant  then  of 
all  my  trusts,  the  mysterious  link  that  binds  me  to  the  generations  that 
follow,  in  whom  all  my  earthly  immortality  resides;  and  passing  me 
on  as  but  a  flgure  in  the  continuous  succession!  And  yet,  in  all  this 
formidable  rivalry,  I  clasp  this  first  born  to  my  heart  and  with  not  th** 
least  infusion  of  jealousy. 

"  'Little  stranger,  comest  thou  to  solve  or  to  darken  the  mystery  of 
marriage  ?  Even  at  the  fountain  the  stream  was  parted  in  two  heads  in 
the  dualism  of  sex.  Great  enigma  of  nature,  lying  just  at  the  begin- 
ning: man's  unity  broken  by  the  separateness  of  woman — yet  preserved 
in  her  derivation  from  his  side,  ideally  existing  still  in  him  from  whom 
she  was  taken.  The  complementary  parts  are  reintegrated  into  the 
whole  by  a  mystical  union  which  blends  the  two  spiritually  into  one. 
And  now  the  joint  life  issues  in  a  birth,  the  child  gathers  into  itself 
the  double  being  from  which  it  sprung,  and  diversity  returns  to  the 
unity  whence  it  emerged.  Strange  reconciliation  of  Nature's  contradic- 
tions— ^this  third,  in  whom  the  one  and  the  two  are  brought  together 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  jj 

again.  Tiny  infant  as  thou  art,  thou  dost  yet  interpret  the  symbol  of 
marriage  to  those  who  produced  thee. 

"  'An  immortal  soul,  with  dormant  powers  that  by  and  by  will  com- 
pass the  universe ;  now  soaring  to  the  copestone  of  heaven,  and  measur- 
ing the  stars;  now  turning  the  stone-leaves  which  beneath  the  earth 
record  the  histories  of  countless  cycles.  A  soul  which  will  at  last 
strip  off  the  encumbrance  of  clay,  and  sweep  with  exploring  wing  the 
vast  eternity  where  God  makes  His  dwelling  place  and  I  must  stoop 
beneath  this  wing  and  teach  its  first  flight,  that  will  rise  higher  and 
higher  in  the  far  forever.' 

"A  soul,  alas,  bom  under  the  curse  of  sin,  through  me  the  guilty 
channel.  And  I  must  stand  in  the  holy  priesthood  appointed  of  God, 
between  it  and  eternal  death.  My  soul  must  be  in  its  soul's  stead,  and 
feel  for  it  the  Law's  penal  frown.  My  faith  must  lay  her  hand  upon 
the  covenant,  'I  will  be  a  God  to  thee  and  to  thy  seed  after  thee;'  and 
plead  the  force  of  that  great  instrument  with  all  the  agony  of  human 
intercession."  * 

The  child  was  called  for  the  father  and  for  his  maternal 
uncle,  who  as  a  young  lad  had  perished  in  the  Connecticut 
River,  Benjamin  Blakeley.  The  only  son  ever  bom  to  them, 
he  was  not  to  pass  beyond  the  pale  of  infancy  in  this  life.  But 
how  rich  God  made  them  in  him  for  the  time !  And  how  im- 
portant that  he  who  was  to  deal  with  the  joys  and  sorrows, 
the  privileges,  duties  and  responsibilities  of  parenthood,  in  so 
influential  a  way,  should  have  practical  experience  of  the  re- 
lation himself.  We  shall  see  them  mourning  around  the  little 
one's  bier  in  less  than  two  years;  but  who  shall  say  that  his 
coming  was  not  fraught  with  consequences  sufficient  to  com- 
pensate for  all  the  sorrow  ? 

The  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  Savannah  had  been  or- 
ganized in  the  summer  of  1827,  of  persons  who  had  withdrawn 
from  the  Independent  Presbyterian  Church  of  that  city,  four- 
teen in  number.  Amongst  these  had  been  Lowell  Mason,  the 
great  composer  of  sacred  music.  In  organizing,  the  churcli 
had  elected  Messrs.  Lowell  Mason,  Joseph  Cumming  and  G. 
G.  Paries  as  elders.  The  Rev.  John  Boggs  had  become  stated 
supply  of  the  church  early  in  1828,  and  pastor  November  30, 
1828,  to  December  i,  1829.  For  nearly  two  years  ensuing  the 
church  had  been  without  a  regular  pastor,  depending  on  tem- 
porary supplies.  In  1831,  Rev.  Charles  Colcock  Jones  had  be- 
gun his  ministry.    After  a  year  and  a  half  of  service  as  pastor, 

*See  the  Broken  Home,  pp.  S  to  8. 


78         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

feeling  called  to  give  his  time  wholly  to  missionary  labors 
amongst  the  negroes,  Mr.  Jones  had  resigned.  Meanwhile  he 
had  been  instrumental  in  giving  the  church  an  impetus  to 
growth,  and  in  securing  the  initial  steps  looking  to  the  erection 
of  a  house  of  worship.  Following  upon  his  pastorate  had  come 
a  series  of  stated  supplies.  The  next  pastorate  had  been  that  of 
Rev.  Joseph  L.  Jones  from  April  2y^  1837,  to  his  death  in  1841. 
The  church  had  thus  had  a  succession  of  short  pastorates,  in- 
terspersed with  stated  supplyships.  The  members  were  not 
numerous,  but  amongst  them  was  not  a  little  stalwart  Pres- 
byterian stuff. 

While  preaching  the  sermon  dedicatory  of  the  present  edi- 
fice of  this  church,  on  the  9th  of  June,  1872,  Benjamin  M. 
Palmer  himself  described  the  session  of  the  church  as  it  ex- 
isted during  the  period  of  his  pastorate  as  follows : 

"It  would  require  little  effort  to  reproduce  the  old  session  of  thirty 
years  ago;  the  faithful  body-guard  of  the  young  pastor  whose  in- 
experience was  then  first  learning  how  it  should  'behave  itself  in  the 
house  and  kingdom  of  God,  which  is  the  church  of  the  living  God, 
the  pillar  and  ground  of  the  truth/  Here,  just  upon  the  right,  sat 
the  patriarchal  Maxwell,  an  Israelite  in  whom  there  was  no  guile; 
who  united  the  simplicity  of  the  child  with  the  prudence  of  the  sage ;  in 
whose  fatherly  heart  the  children  of  sorrow  and  care  ever  found 
shelter,  and  whose  word  or  smile  was  a  perpetual  benediction  to  the 
weary  and  worn.  There,  in  front,  and  near  the  middle  of  the  house, 
was  the  unbent  figure  of  Joseph  Gumming,  with  the  steel-gray  eye  and 
compressed  lip,  the  very  symbol  of  decision  and  power;  whose  broad 
intellect  measured  truth  in  the  grandeur  of  her  proportions,  and  whose 
massive  will  crushed  difficulties,  as  bars  of  iron  are  sometimes  bent 
in  a  giant's  grip.  A  few  pews  in  advance  of  him  was  present  the 
honest  Grabtree,  the  frankness  of  whose  nature  was  like  the  open 
sea,  with  which  in  earlier  days  he  held  communion;  positive  in  his 
judgment,  as  those  are  apt  to  be  whose  only  education  has  been  hard 
experience,  and  whose  practical  wisdom  was  gathered  in  the  same 
school.  There,  upon  the  left,  sat  the  John-like  Ingersoll,  whose  gen- 
tleness distilled  like  the  dew  and  softened  all  about  him;  whose 
counsels  were  always  of  peace,  and  whose  loving  spirit  fitted  him 
so  early  to  go  up  and  lie  upon  the  Savior's  bosom;  whilst  a  few  steps 
in  the  rear  of  him,  was  the  humble  and  timid  Faries,  with  a  gift  in 
prayer  that  I  have  never  heard  equalled  since ;  and  a  memory  so  steeped 
in  the  language  of  David  and  Paul  that  his  petitions  at  the  mercy-seat 
seemed  like  the  breathings  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  These  it  may  be 
proper  to  distinguished  as  the  'Overseers'  appointed  to  feed  the  church 
of  God,  purchased  with  his  own  blood.     But  the  roll  of  those  who 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  79 

gathered  around  the  sacramental  board  would  sound  very  like  precious 
names, — as  of  Richardson,  G)pp,  Ferguson,  Sturtevant,  Bernard,  and 
others — ^wntten  in  the  book  of  life,  and  now  at  the  marriage  supper  of 
the  Lamb  in  Heaven."' 

In  this  church  he  had  a  good  field  for  a  young  minister  of 
his  energy  and  his  rich  endowment  of  gifts, — a  good  field  for 
him  notwithstanding  his  inexperience.  It  would  have  proven 
one  of  too  much  work  for  all  save  a  few  young  ministers.  They 
would  have  been  reduced  to  empty  talkers,  or  have  been  broken 
in  health.  He  felt  the  strain  oif  it  himself,  as  will  appear ;  but 
he  had  very  unusual  resources.  In  one  way  or  another,  he 
could  appear  before  his  people  three  times  a  week  with  some- 
what worthy  of  their  hearing  and  heeding. 

His  ordination  and  installation  as  pastor  of  the  church  did 
not  take  place  until  he  had  served  the  people  for  several  months. 
They  had  awaited  the  convenience  of  the  Presbytery  of  Georgia, 
the  only  Presbytery  in  the  State  at  the  time.  On  Sabbath 
morning,  March  6,  the  Presbytery,  being  in  session  proceeded 
to  the  ordination.  By  special  invitation,  the  Rev.  Edward 
Palmer,  then  an  Independent  Presbyterian  minister  in  South 
Carolina,  had  come  over  to  preach  the  sermon  in  connection 
with  the  ordination  of  his  son.  He  preached  on  Ezekiel  30 :  7, 
latter  clause :  "Therefore,  thou  shalt  bear  the  word  at  my  mouth 
and  warn  them  from  me."  The  Rev.  Robert  Quarterman  pre- 
sided and  put  the  constitutional  questions  to  licentiate  and  peo- 
ple; and  after  the  ordaining  prayer,  the  Rev.  Qiarles  Colcock 
Jones  delivered  the  charge  to  the  newly  ordained  and  installed 
bishop,  and  the  Rev.  I.  S.  K.  Axson  that  to  the  people. 

Mr.  Palmer  threw  himself  with  great  zeal  into  his  work. 
He  rejoiced  in  every  part  of  his  labors.  Rarely  is  there  found 
such  perfect  adaptation  to  every  part  of  the  ministerial  work 
as  existed  in  his  case.  He  Relighted  in  the  study  of  the  Bible 
and  the  great  theologians,  and  the  connected  philosophical  and 
psychological  subjects.  He  exulted  in  preaching.  Speech- 
making  was  the  function  to  which  he  had  been  born.  He  threw 
himself  into  it  with  joy.  The  pulpit  was  his  throne  and  he  had 
been  made  a  king  in  it  by  the  imposition  of  the  Almighty  hand. 
By  his  bearing,  his  tact,  unfeigned  sympathy,  and  the  confi- 

'  Quoted  in  the  Historical  Sketch  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church, 
Savannah,  Ga.,  by  Wm.  Harden,  p.  25. 


8o         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

dence  and  love  he  inspired,  his  pastoral  work  soon  came  to  be 
a  delightful  part  of  his  labors. 

Nevertheless,  his  ideals  being  very  high,  before  a  long  period 
had  elapsed,  he  began  to  feel  keenly  the  burden  of  preparation 
for  preaching.  He  himself,  in  the  address  "In  Memoriam, 
Rev.  I.  S.  K.  Axson,  D.D.,"'  which  was  delivered  June  14, 
1891,  in  the  Independent  Presbyterian  Church,  of  Savannah, 
Ga.,  has  described  and  defined  in  part,  just  where  and  how  it 
pressed  most  heavily,  and  has  told  us  of  the  cure  to  which  he 
was  pointed  for  the  uneasiness  occasioned  by  the  burden,  in 
the  following  words: 

'There  is  an  experience  somewhat  dark  and  painful,  which  these 
pastors  around  me  will  verify  as  occurring  in  the  life  of  every  young 
preacher.  It  is  when  he  has  fairly  used  up  the  elementary  knowledge 
which  prepared  him  for  entrance  upon  the  sacred  office,  and  he  sinks 
under  the  oppressive  sense  of  mental  exhaustion.  He  finds  himself 
confronted  with  responsibilities  of  which  he  cannot  be  divested,  ex- 
cept at  death,  and  which  he  feels  wholly  incapacitated  to  fulfill.  He  has 
spoken  all  he  ever  knew  without  the  hope  of  another  fresh  thought 
as  long  as  he  may  live.  There  is  for  him,  apparently,  neither  retreat 
nor  progress.  It  was  in  this  trying  crisis  that  the  speaker  took  refuge 
in  the  fatherly  confidence  of  Dr.  Willard  Preston,  then  in  the  fifty- 
seventh  year  of  his  age,  and  not  far  from  the  middle  of  his  long 
pastorSite  here  of  four  and  twenty  years.  Blessed  servant  of  God, 
how  vividly  at  this  moment  do  I  recall  his  genial  presence,  the 
kindly  smile  flitting  like  a  wave  of  sunlight  over  his  placid  face,  with 
a  gentle  humor  lurking  still  in  the  corner  of  his  eyes!  How  tenderly 
he  took  me  to  his  heart  and  suffered  me  to  nestle  in  his  bosom !  From 
that  hour  I  have  loved  him  with  the  reverent  affection  of  a  son. 
Without  any  show  of  patronage  or  of  supercilious  condescension,  he 
showed  how  this  experience  must  come  sooner  or  later  to  every  ingen- 
uous student;  how  this  shallowness  of  present  knowledge  would  whet 
the  appetite  for  the  truth  lying  in  the  unfathomed  depths  yet  to  be 
explored;  how  needful  this  lesson  of  humility  was  to  forestall  the  self- 
consequence  and  offensive  vanity  so  ipt  to  be  engendered  in  those 
whose  teachings  are  accustomed  to  be  received  with  entire  deference 
by  others.  Then  tearing  a  leaf  from  his  own  record,  he  exposed  the 
secret  of  a  like  humiliation  in  his  earlier  years,  and,  pausing  to  lay 
his  hand  upon  the  Sacred  Book,  he  pointed  to  the  inexhaustible  treas- 
ures hid  therein,  and,  as  answering  to  these,  he  alluded  to  the  depths  of 
Christian  experience  lying  yet  undeveloped  in  my  own  heart,  which 
would  be  opened  by  the  Divine  Spirit  to  all  the  truth  contained  in  the 

•pp.  6  and  7. 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  8i 

Scriptures  themselves.  It  was  another  Elisha  opening  the  eyes  of 
the  young  man  to  behold  the  mountain  full  of  horses  and  chariots 
of  fire  round  about  From  this  'time  forth  there  lingered  no  fear  of 
future  bankruptcy  in  the  ministry  of  the  Word." 

Feeling  obliged  to  study  broadly  and  thoroughly,  Mr.  Palm- 
er resolved  to  discard  writing  his  sermons  and  preaching 
from  manuscript;  resolved  to  prepare  the  matter  with  great 
care  and  the  plans. of  his  discourses  and  to  get  the  plans  well 
into  his  memory,  but  to  depend  on  the  inspiration  of  the  mo- 
ment for  language  in  which  to  clothe  his  explicatory  thoughts. 
His  natural  gifts  of  speech,  inbred  correctness  as  to  form,  and 
vigorous  training  as  a  debater  and  orator  in  every  school  from 
the  Walterboro  Academy  to  the  University  of  Georgia,  came 
now  to  his  help.  He  succeeded  splendidly  in  his  new  departure, 
whilst  most  men  so  young  and  inexperienced  would  have  failed. 
His  preaching  after  his  new  fashion  was  vastly  more  acceptable 
than  his  former  preaching  had  been.  His  mental  excitement  in 
the  pulpit  was  necessarily  greater.  Responding  to  the  de- 
mand to  clothe  the  skeleton  sermon  he  held  in  memory  in  fit- 
ting words  as  delivered,  he  inevitably  underwent  the  exhilar- 
ating labor  of  recasting  as  well  as  reclothing  the  whole  dis- 
course. His  exhilaration  was  imparted  to  his  audience  through 
noble  speech,  the  commerce  of  his  fine  eyes,  his  graceful  ges- 
tures, and  his  whole  bearing. 

Being  able  to  preach  after  this  sort  of  preparation,  he  could 
command  the  time  previously  occupied  in  the  laborious  writing 
of  his  long  discourses,  in  the  study  of  the  Scriptures  and  of 
such  collateral  works  as  he  might  be  specially  interested  in  from 
time  to  time. 

From  a  universal  index,  which  he  apparently  began  to  keep 
while  he  was  in  Savannah,  we  learn  that  he  was  not  only  read- 
ing some  of  the  leading  theological  reviews  and  an  occasional 
book  of  travel  and  history,  but  that  he  was  studying  certain 
subjects  profoundly,  e.  g.,  the  evidences  of  Christianity,  the 
doctrine  of  justification  and  of  sacrifice,  and  especially  the  na- 
ture and  place  of  the  atonement  in  the  scheme  of  Christian  re- 
demption. He  seems  to  have  studied  profoundly  Witsius, 
On  the  Covenants,  Magee,  on  the  Atonement  and  Sacrifices, 
the  Works  of  John  Owen  and  John  Howe,  Calvin's  "Insti- 
tutes," Dwight's  and  Dick's  Theologies, — not  the  whole  of  the 
works  but  considerable  parts.  He  seems  to  have  read  quite  a 
string  of  works  on  "inspiration ;"  and  a  considerable  number  of 

6 


82         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

works  on  church  government,  and  to  have  done  special  reading 
on  the  place  of  children  in  the  church.  Kurtz's  "History  of  the 
Old  Covenant"  received  considerable  attention ;  Boston's  "Four- 
fold State,"  etc. 

This  breadth  of  study  as  well  as  thoroughness  was  of  im- 
portance in  the  part  he  was  to  play  subsequently  in  very  com- 
manding positions.  Indeed,  it  was  essential.  Mr.  Palmer  was 
to  serve  his  church  in  functions  wherein  he  needed  the  richest 
scriptural  and  theological  furnishing  as  well  as  all  his  wonder- 
ful oratorical  gifts. 

Bred  up  in  the  home  of  a  pastor  of  wonderful  efficiency, 
who  laid  great  stress  on  the  importance  of  the  minister's  pas- 
toral functions,  he  naturally  threw  himself  into  pastoral  work 
just  so  far  as  sickness  and  other  emergencies  demanded,  and 
as  far  as  the  interests  of  those  committed  to  his  care  seemed  to 
him  to  demand  it.  He  paid  many  social  calls,  too,  believing 
that  he  could  thus  draw  people  first  to  himself  and  then  per- 
haps, to  his  Lord.  Nevertheless,  he  was  more  jealous  of  the 
time  so  spent  than  he  became  toward  the  end  of  his  life,  when 
he  could  better  afford  to  spend  more  time  outside  of  the  study. 

He  possessed  somewhat  of  the  headiness  of  youth  during 
this  period.  From  a  child  he  had  had  a  fondness  for  having 
his  own  way.  In  that  he  was  not,  as  in  some  other  respects, 
singular,  however.  It  was  soon  to  become  a  mark  with  Mr. 
Palmer  that  he  could  secure  his  own  way  with  those  with  whom 
he  had  to  do  by  gracious  tact.  He  was  rarely  to  put  himself  in 
a  position  in  which  he  might  meet  open  defiance  on  the  part 
of  a  member  of  a  church,  or  stubborn  refusal,  or  any  similarly 
unpleasant  conduct.  In  his  later  days  he  sometimes  illustrated 
what  he  called  his  "youthful  rashness"  in  the  Savannah  pas- 
torate by  the  following  incident:  In  his  church  there,  there 
was  a  member  peculiarly  gifted  in  prayer.  He  had  been  called 
upon  several  fimes  to  lead  the  congregation  in  prayer  and  had 
always  done  so  with  evident  edification ;  but  at  length  he  suf- 
fered, while  leading  them  in  their  supplications,  a  sort  of  stage 
fright.  He  subsequently  came  to  Mr.  Palmer  and  asked  him 
not  to  call  on  him  again,  declaring  that  he  could  not  make  the 
attempt  to  lead  the  people  thereafter.  Mr.  Palmer  tried  to 
reason  with  him ;  and  finding  that  he  could  do  nothing  by  rea- 
son or  persuasion,  told  him  that  he  intended  to  call  on  him  as 
before.  At  an  early  meeting,  perhaps  the  next  One,  Mr.  Palmer 
called  on  him  to  lead  in  prayer.    There  was  no  response.    Af- 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  83 

ter  a  little  the  pastor  repeated  his  call  to  the  brother  to  lead 
the  meeting  in  prayer.  There  was  no  response  to  this  second 
call.     After  a  moment  the  determined  young  pastor  said: 

"Brother  ,  we  shall  just  sit  here  till  you  lead  us  in 

prayer."  This  was  too  much  for  the  timid  but  excellent  btpther 
appealed  to.  He  led  the  meeting  at  once,  and  in  an  uplifting 
prayer;  and  thenceforth  never  failed  to  respond  when  called 
upon. 

His  daring  course  was  followed  by  good  results  in  this  in- 
stance. But  it  is  said  that  when  asked  in  his  old  age  whether 
he  would  repeat  the  process  in  a  similar  case,  he  would  smile 
and  say  I  "No,  I  think  that  is  a  case  of  God's  overruling  the 
rashness  of  my  youth  for  good.  Had  the  circumstances  of 
God's  ordering  been  different  my  rashness  might  have  been 
followed  by  much  evil."  The  following  incident  will  show 
that  this  daring  young  pastor  was,  in  personal  work,  a  skilful 
fisherman  of  men.  During  the  revival  to  be  referred  to  after 
a  little,  a  young  friend  dropped  in  for  a  week's  sojourn  with 
him  in  his  home.  He  appeared  annoyed  at  the  presence  of  the 
revival  and  would  have  left  but  for  kindly  solicitations  to  re- 
main.  Mr.  Palmer  did  not  even  ask  him  to  attend  church. 
On  the  contrary  he  gave  him  to  understand  that  he  could  do 
as  he  pleased.  The  youth,  however,  chose  to  attend,  having 
nothing  better  to  do.  After  a  little  he  developed  a  restlessness 
and  an  irritation  of  manner. 

"Thus,"  to  let  Mr.  Palmer  tell  the  story  in  his  own  words,  "matters 
moved  on  from  day  to  day,  till  the  Sabbath  came  and  was  passed, 
and  on  Monday  the  conflict  reached  its  crisis.  I  was  writing  in  my 
study  as  he  came  in  and  sat  beside  my  desk — breaking  out,  after  a  little, 
in  the  petulant  remark :  'You  preachers  are  the  most  contradictory  men 
in  the  world;  you  say,  and  you  unsay,  just  as  it  pleases  you,  without 
the  least  pretension  to  consistency.' 

"Somehow  I  was  not  surprised  at  this  outbreak;  for  though  no  sign 
of  religious  feeling  had  been  evinced,  there  was  a  restlessness  in  his 
manner  which  satisfied  me  that  he  was  secretly  fighting  against  the 
truth.  I  thought  it  best  to  treat  the  case  in  an  off-hand  sort  of  way, 
and  with  seeming  indifference  so^  as  to  cut  him  off  from  all  opportunity 
to  coquette  with  the  Gospel.  Without  arresting  my  pen,  I  simply  an- 
swered, 'Well,  what  now?* 

"  *Why,  yesterday  you  said  in  your  sermon  that  sinners  were  perfectly 
helpless  in  themselves — ^utterly  unable  to  repent  or  believe  and  then 
turned  square  round  and  said  that  they  would  all  be  damned  if  they 
did  not' 


84         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"*WcII,  my  dear  E ,  there  is  no  use  in  our  quarreling  over  this 

matter;  either  you  can  or  you  cannot.  If  you  can,  all  I  have  to  say 
is  that  I  hope  you  will  just  go  and  do  it' 

''As  I  did  not  raise  my  eyes  from  my  writing,  which  was  continued 
as  I  spoke,  I  had  no  means  of  marking  the  effect  of  these  words,  until, 
after  a  moment's  silence,  with  a  choking  utterance,  the  reply  came  back: 
*I  have  been  trying  my  best  for  three  whole  days,  and  cannot.*  'Ah,* 
said  I,  laying  down  the  pen;  'that  puts  a  different  face  upon  it;  we 
will  go  then  and  tell  the  difficulty  straight  out  to  God.' 

"We  knelt  together  and  I  prayed  as  though  this  was  the  first  time  in 
human  history  that  this  trouble  had  ever  arisen ;  that  here  was  a  soul 
in  the  most  desperate  extremity,  which  must  believe  or  perish,  and 
hopelessly  unable  of  itself,  to  do  it;  that,  consequently  it  was  just  the 
case  calling  for  Divine  interposition;  and  pleading  most  earnestly  for 
the  fulfillment  of  the  Divine  promise.  Upon  rising  I  offered  not  one 
single  word  of  comfort  or  advice.  Youth  is  seldom  disingenuous  or 
stubborn,  and  the  difficulty  was  recog^iized  as  purely  practical.  So  I 
left  my  friend  in  his  powerlessness  in  the  hands  of  God,  as  the  only 
helper.  In  a  short  time  he  came  through  the  struggle,  rejoicing  in 
the  hope  of  eternal  life. 

"The  fact  simply  is,  that  'the  carnal  mind  is  enmity  against  God: 
for  it  is  not  subject  to  the  law  of  God;  neither  indeed  can  be.*  The 
danger  is  not  so  much  that  the  sinner  will  be  crushed  into  despair  by 
the  clear  apprehension  of  this  truth,  as  that  he  will  fail  to  realize  it  at 
all.  They  wrap  themselves  in  the  fatal  delusion  that  they  are  com- 
petent to  repent  at  will,  and  so  they  sport  with  the  whole  matter  as 
being  perfectly  under  their  control.  The  issue  becomes  fearfully 
momentous,  as  soon  as  they  practically  discover  that  they  are,  in  them- 
selves, utterly  without  strength,  and  therefore  wholly  dependent  on 
the  sovereign  mercy  of  God.  It  is  uiiwise  to  strip  the  truth  of  its 
apparent  sternness  by  any  attempts  at  metaphysical  explanation,  or 
to  blunt  its  edge  by  offering  premature  comfort  It  is  better  to  deal 
honestly  with  it  as  a  tremendous  fact,  and  then  leave  the  awakened 
sinner  face  to  face  with  his  peril,  thrown  back  in  this  solemn  crisis 
upon  the  pledged  mercy  of  God,  in  Christ.  'Shall  I  bring  to  the 
birth,  and  not  cause  to  bring  forth  ?  saith  the  Lord.*  '*  * 

This  incident  indicates  as  well  as  a  sermon  of  the  period 
would  do,  the  kind  of  a  gospel  he  then  held  forth,  in  all  its 
aspects. 

He  found  time  to  lend  a  helping  hand  to  the  advancement  of 

*See  Southwestern  Presbyterian,  Thursday,  August  5,  1869,  under 
caption,  "Practical  Uses  of  the  Doctrine  of  Inability.'* 


Pastor  of  Church  at  Savannah.  85 

religion  outside  the  bounds  of  his  own  congregation.  During 
the  winter  of  1841-1842,  a  season  of  revival  was  enjoyed  in 
the  churches  of  Savannah,  beginning  in  the  Independent  Pres- 
byterian Church  and  "chiefly  under  the  preaching  of  that  emi- 
nent servant  of  God,  Rev.  Dr.  Joseph  C.  Stiles.''  In  this  reviv- 
al all  the  pastors  bore  their  part ;  and  the  young  Timothy  took 
his  turn  with  the  others  at  the  sacred  desk.  In  the  following 
summer,  the  pastor  of  the  Independent  Presbyterian  Church 
was  long  absent,  owing  to  sickness,  and  the  pastoral  services 
of  Mr.  Palmer  were  given  to  the  people  of  that  church  so  far 
as  his  duty  to  his  own  people  permitted.  In  waiting  upon  their 
sick  and  in  conducting  their  weekly  prayer-meetings  he  found 
some  outlet  for  surplus  energies,  built  them  up  in  their  Chris- 
tian life  and  knit  them  to  himself,  as  we  shall  hereafter  see. 
During  the  less  than  fifteen  months  of  service  in  the  Savan- 
nah church,  Mr.  Palmer  had  won  the  love  of  the  people  in  a 
remarkable  degree.  Under  his  care  the  church  had  flourished. 
Additions  had  been  made  to  the  membership.  The  church  as 
a  whole  had  been  edified.  Attention  had  been  called  to  the 
church  as  a  congregation  where  the  people  were  really  taught 
and  delightfully  taught.  They  abhorred  the  thought  of  giving 
him  up.  But  that  thought  was  like  the  ghost  of  Banquo;  it 
would  not  down.  Other  churches  were  laying  eyes  on  him; 
and  meant  to  have  him  if  he  could  be  had.  Even  back  in  the 
forties  people  liked  a  young  preacher  that  could  preach  and  be- 
have after  Palmer's  fashion;  and  the  staid  old  church  in  the 
Upper  Country  capital  city  of  South  Carolina,  under  the  eaves 
of  Columbia  Seminary,  made  a  successful  demand  for  him. 
It  was  a  formidable  field  but  a  most  important  one.  Those  peo- 
ple had  had  Thornwell  as  their  pastor.  He  was  then  frequently 
heard  by  them,  for  as  president  of  South  Carolina  College 
he  was  often  accessible  to  them  as  pulpit  supply  when  for  any 
cause  they  had  no  preacher  of  their  own.  He  would  be  an  audi- 
tor of  Palmer's  in  Columbia.  The  Columbia  congregation  al- 
most adored  him.  But  then  Palmer  could  preach  to  a  large 
resident  audience  of  worthy  and  influential  people,  have  in  his 
pews  the  Columbia  theological  students  and  teach  them,  by  do- 
ing it,  how  to  open  God's  word  to  the  people ;  during  term  time 
of  the  college,  address  in  addition,  a  considerable  proportion 
of  college  students,  amongst  whom  would  be  the  coming  influ- 
ential men  of  South  Carolina ;  and  whilst  the  legislature  was  in 
session  he  would  have  as  hearers  many  of  the  public  men  of 


86         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

the  entire  State.  It  was  a  most  important  post,  and  the  reader 
can  imagine  how  this  call  would  be  pressed  in  letters  from 
grave  professors,  legal  lights,  and  other  earnest  servants  of  the 
church,  pleading  with  this  young  man  of  just  twenty-five  to 
come  and  fill  this  great  post. 

In  the  next  chapter  we  shall  see  how  he  acquitted  himself 
in  that  place  of  vantage  and  responsibility. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

THE  PASTOR  AT  COLUMBIA,  S.  C. 
(January,    1843— October,    1855.) 

The  Work  to  Which  he  Went  at  Columbia,  S.  C — ^The  Zeal  with 
Which  he  Threw  Himself  Into  his  Work. — ^His  Pulpit  Min- 
istrations.—His  Zeal  in  the  Application  of  Discipune. — His 
Labors  as  a  Pastor. — Illustrative  Incidents. — ^Th^  Loss  of  his 
Mother. — ^The  Loss  of  Little  Benjamin  Blakeley. — His  Erec- 
tion OF  THE  Present  Noble  Church  Edifice,  the  First  Presby- 
terian Church,  Columbia. — His  Dedicatory  Sermon,  Showing 
his  Ideals  in  1853. — ^The  Results  of  his  Labors  in  the  Growth 
OF  HIS  Church. 

AS  indicated  in  the  previous  chapter,  when  the  Rev.  Mr. 
Palmer  went  to  Columbia,  he  entered  a  most  important 
field.  The  members  of  the  State  Legislature,  and  of  the  courts 
of  justice,  the  student  bodies  of  the  State  College  and  of  the 
Columbia  Theological  Seminary,  during  their  respective  term 
times,  presented  severally  great  opportunities  for  a  wide,  per- 
vasive and  exceptionally  potent  influence.  In  addition  to 
these  special  opportunities  afforded  in  the  Columbia  field,  there 
were  in  the  church  itself  one  hundred  and  sixteen  white  mem- 
bers and  twelve  colored  members,  embracing  many  families 
of  commanding  position  and  influence  in  the  capital  city; 
which,  next  to  Charleston,  was  the  most  important  city  in  the 
State  of  South  Carolina,  and  outranked  as  an  educational 
center  even  the  old  mother  city  on  the  Cooper  and  the  Ashley. 
The  church  was  well  organized  and  officered,  at  least  as  con- 
cerned ruling  elders.  Amongst  the  elders  when  he  entered 
upon  the  pastorate  were  such  men  as  William  Law — ^that  man 
of  artless  simplicity,  unaffected  humility,  unshaken  firmness, 
wonderful  guilelessness,  strict  veracity,  spotless  honesty,  simple 
and  sincere  piety,  and  business  abilities,  a  very  great  friend 
of  Columbia  Seminary;  Sidney  Crane,  the  man  of  unbending 
integrity,  wise  counsels,  and  godly  influence ;  and  G.  T.  Snow- 
den, — ^the  spiritual  son  of  Dr.  Romeyn  of  New  York,  tutored 
in  tfie  faith  by  Rev.  John  Holt  Rice,  D.D.,  of  Richmond,  the 
man  of  prayer  and  works,  another  friend  of  Columbia  Theo- 
logical Seminary,  a  man  of  theological  acumen,  a  sound  Old 


88         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

School  man  who  magnified  the  grace  of  Christ.  To  the  session 
were  added  worthy  compeers  in  Mr.  James  Martin,^  1845,  Mr. 
Andrew  E.  Crawford,  1846,  and  Professor  R.  T.  Brumby,  1852. 

It  was  his  duty  to  feed  this  congregation  on  the  Word ;  and 
in  union  with  his  elders,  to  guide  all  its  members  in  their  daily 
living  as  far  as  possible  in  accord  with  the  teachings  of  the 
Word;  to  bring  the  power  of  God  in  discipline  to  bear  upon 
their  lives ;  and  to  set  the  whole  force  to  work  for  the  progress 
of  Christ's  kingdom  to  the  end  of  the  world.  The  responsibili- 
ties were  huge  and  Mr.  Palmer  felt  them  to  be  such. 

He  threw  himself  with  extraordinary  zeal  into  the  effort 
to  measure  up  to  the  demands  of  the  situation — ^particularly 
to  the  obligation  to  indoctrinate  his  people  thoroughly,  and 
to  secure  their  disciplinary  tuition  according  to  the  principles 
revealed  in  the  word  of  God.  Nor  was  he  dead  to  his  obliga- 
tion to  excite  and  lead  his  church  into  worthy  missionary  en- 
deavor, as  many  noble  sermons,  lectures  and  addresses  on  the 
subject  make  clear.  , 

His  own  view  of  his  relations  to  his  new  charge  as  preacher 
he  set  forth  with  elaborate  care  in  his  inaugural  sermon  in  the 
Columbia  church,  January  29,  1843.  He  took  for  his  text  the 
words  of  Balaam,  son  of  Beor,  to  Balak,  Ntun.  22 :  38 :  "And 
Balaam  said  unto  Balak,  Lo,  I  am  come  unto  thee:  have  I 
now  any  power  at  all  to  say  any  thing?  the  word  that  God 
putteth  in  my  mouth,  that  shall  I  speak."  After  a  historical 
introduction  setting  forth  the  circumstances  under  which  the 
text  was  originally  uttered,  the  preacher  began : 

"Beloved  brethren  and  friends,  I  have  selected  this  passage  as  pecu- 
liarly appropriate  to  the  position  which  I  occupy  before  you  this  day. 
At  your  own  call,  in  the  good  providence  of  God,  I  appear  to  you 
in  some  sort  as  the  prophet  of  God.  Lo,  I  am  here.  And,  if  I  may 
adopt  this  expression  as  my  own  in  reference  to  my  presence  before 
you,  with  what  emphasis  may  I  repeat  what  follows!  Have  I  now 
any  power  at  all  to  say  anything?  The  word  that  God  putteth  into  my 
mouth,  that  shall  I  speak.  It  is  not  my  design  to  run  any  parallel 
between  the  case  of  Balaam  and  that  of  the  Gospel  minister.  God 
forbid  that  those  who  preach  salvation  through  Christ  should  find  their 
type  in  this  avaricious,  ungodly  and  malevolent  prophet.     In  many 

*  Mr.  Martin  had  served  in  the  church  as  elder  prior  to  this  election, 
but  his  relation  as  elder  had  terminated  on  his  removal  from  the  place. 
Having  returned  he  was  chosen  to  the  exercises  of  the  functions 
again. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  89 

points  they  differ  widely.  He  came  to  curse  God's  people ;  they  come  to 
bless  and  comfort  He  came  at  the  instigation  of  the  wicked,  allured 
by  the  prospect  of  gain;  they  come  at  the  call  of  the  pious  to  become 
the  servant  of  all.  He  came,  Providence  allowing  and  overruling; 
they  come,  Providence  blessing  and  commanding.  Still  the  language 
of  the  text  and  the  great  truth  inculcated  in  the  history,  are  pertinent 
to  our  purpose:  which  is  briefly  to  show  the  nature  of  the  ministerial 
oMce  and  the  grounds  upon  which  its  authority  and  influence  are  based" 

Having  thus  announced  his  subject,  he  proceeded  to  the 
statement,  explication,  and  argument  in  support  of  the  follow- 
ing propositions  by  way  of  developing  it:  i.  That  true  minis- 
ters  of  the  Gospel  are  specially  called  to  their  otHce  by  God 
himself,  and  their  fields  of  labor  specially  designated.  2.  That 
all  true  ministerial  ability  and  authority  are  derived  from  God, 
Having  argued  these  propositions  in  a  very  able  manner,  the 
preacher  closed  by  reflecting  upon  the  great  practical  impor- 
tance of  his  theme,  which  discovers  to  us:  (i)  The  relation 
which  the  Gospel  minister  sustains  to  God;  (2)  the  relation 
which  he  sustains  to  his  people;  and  (3)  the  source  whence  he 
should  desire  his  encouragement.  In  Mr.  Palmer's  view  the 
minister  of  the  Gospel  is  "a  messenger  from  God  to  speak  only 
the  word  that  is  put  into  his  mouth."  He  may  "not  invent  or 
add  anything  to  his  message.  His  sole  care  must  be  to  inquire 
what  God  the  Lord  will  say."  Touching  his  relation  to  the 
people,  Mr.  Palmer  holds,  that  "the  pastoral  commission  is 
no  contract  formed  merely  for  the  pleasure  and  amusement  of 
the  hearers.  The  pastor  is  not  called  upon  to  cater  to  the 
various  tastes  which  may  perchance  prevail  among  his  audi- 
tors. His  duty  is  to  study  God's  Book,  to  expound  its  doc- 
trines, to  enforce  its  precepts,  to  urge  its  motives,  to  present 
its  promises,  to  recite  its  warnings,  to  declare  its  judgments." 
In  fine,  the  minister  is  to  look  for  his  encouragement  to  God 
rather  than  to  man. 

The  conception  of  the  ministerial  office  which  he  thus  set 
forth  was  thoroughly  Biblical  and  is  worthy  of  all  young  min- 
isters' pondering.  It  was  prophetic  of  the  character  of  his 
teaching  throughout  the  Columbia  pastorate  and  to  the  end  of 
life. 

He  preached  on  a  great  range  of  topics.  His  aim  was  to  set 
forth  all  Biblical  truths  in  their  due  proportion.  There  lies 
before  us  a  huge  pile  of  briefs  of  sermons,  lectures,  and  se- 
ries of  sermons  and  lectures,  of  this  period.    These  have  not 


90         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

been  arranged  in  any  topical  or  strictly  chronological  order. 
We  turn  them  over  and  read  their  titles :  "Apologetic  Lectures 
on  Christianity,"  "The  Comparative  Value  of  Moral  Evidence 
in  Support  of  Christianity,"  "The  Amount  of  Moral  Evidence 
in  Support  of  Christianity,"  "The  Father  Glorified  by  the  Son," 
"Folly  of  Atheism,"  "Justice  of  Final  Condemnation,"  "The 
Gospel,  the  Power  of  God,"  "Sin  an  Evil  and  Bitter  Thing," 
"Grace  Superabounding,"  "Opposition  Between  Law  and 
Grace,"  "Inward  Empire  of  the  Gospel,"  "Salvation  by  Hope," 
"Darkness  in  the  Soul,"  "If  the  Foundations  be  Destroyed, 
What  can  the  Righteous  Do?"  "Righteousness  and  Strength," 
"Christ  in  us,"  "Mortification  of  Sin,"  "Bearing  the  Cross," 
"Mediatorial  Authority  of  Christ,"  "Human  Apostasy,"  "Cor- 
ruption of  Mankind,"  "Man  Created  in  the  Image  of  God," 
"Practical  uses  of  Predestination,"  "Sinners  Waxing  Worse 
and  Worse,"  "The  Inward  Witness,"  "Abounding  in  the  Work 
of  the  Lord,"  "Victory  over  Death  by  Christ,"  "God's  Justice 
and  AflSictions,"  "Death  to  the  Law  and  by  the  Law,"  "Ex- 
cellency of  the  Knowledge  of  Christ,"  "Grod's  Holiness  the 
Basis  of  all  Worship,"  "Influence  of  Christians  on  Kindred," 
"Foundation  of  the  Universal  Gospel  Offer,"  "Believer's  Mar- 
riage with  Christ  Consummated,"  "Future  Punishment," 
"Brotherly  Love,"  "Antimonianism  Latent  in  Arminianism," 
"Lectures  on  the  Larger  Catechism,"  "Believer's  Witness  for 
God,"  "Christian  Progress,"  "Spirit  of  Adoption,"  "Christ's 
Constraining  Love,"  "The  Lord's  Supper  an  Instituted  Ordi- 
nance," "God's  Presence,"  "Past  Feeling,"  "The  Providence  of 
God,"  "Predestination  Consistent  with  Free  Agency,"  "The 
Law  a  Measure  of  Sanctification,"  "Lectures  on  the  Messianic 
Psalms,"  "Proofs  of  the  Doctrine  of  Decrees,"  "Christ's  Life 
the  Life  of  the  Believer,"  "Sanctification  of  Christ,"  "The 
Transfiguration,"  "Effects  of  Repentance,"  "Men  are  as  they 
Think,"  "Crucify  the  Flesh,"  "A  Series  of  Lectures  to  the 
Young,"  "Spirituality  of  Worship,"  "Alternation  of  Good  and 
Evil,"  "Bicentenary  of  the  Westminster  Assembly,"  "Believers 
the  Workmanship  of  God  and  Created  unto  Good  Works," 
"Uses  of  Affliction,"  "God's  Government  over  Nations,"  "Sanc- 
tification of  the  Sabbath,"  "God's  Patience  to  the  Reprobate," 
"Fatherly  Discipline,"  "Justification  and  Sanctification,"  "Spir- 
itual Leanness,"  "Sinners  Self-Destroyed,"  "Ministers  Ambas- 
sadors for  Christ,"  "God  not  the  Author  of  Sin,"  "Christ  the 
Hope  of  His  Church,"  "The  Impossibility  of  Salvation  by  the 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia^  S.  C.  91 

Law,"  "The  Doctrine  of  a  Special  Providence,"  "Missionary 
Lectures,"  "Office  of  the  Law,"  "Pleasure  in  Unrighteousness," 
"Fear  of  Death  a  Bondage,"  "Qirist's  Commission  to  the 
Church,"  "Godly  Sorrow  and  the  Sorrow  of  the  World,"  "Uni- 
versal Salvation  Disproved,"  "Regeneration,"  "The  Son  of 
Man  a  Savior,"  "Christians'  Witness  Against  Themselves," 
"Greatness  of  Revealed  Truth,"  "The  Soul  Lost  by  Attending 
to  Trifles,"  "The  Covenant  with  Adam,"  "Deity  of  Christ," 
"Duty  of  Family  Instruction,"  "Duty  of  tihe  Church  to  Educate 
the  Ministry,"  "Infant  Baptism  Warranted  by  the  Church 
Charter ;"  many  briefs  on  phases  of  prayer,  "Grace  Sufficient," 
etc. 

During  the  entire  Columbia  pastorate  his  pulpit  ministra- 
tions were  no  less  remarkable  for  their  fitness  to  instruct  and 
to  edify  than  to  attract  and  to  delight.  A  born  speaker  to  the 
people,  a  well-equipped  theologian,  commanding  largely  the 
treasures  of  Biblical  knowledge,  his  skill  in  handling  themes 
and  audiences  grew  with  the  months.  He  possessed  a  growing 
faculty  of  clear  explication,  popular  but  accurate  statement  of 
points,  luminous  and  noble  illustrations. 

It  is  interesting  to  peep  into  his  study  and  remark  his  method 
in  the  preparation  of  his  sermon^.  He  may  be  seen  after  he  has 
made  choice  of  his  texts,  consulting  various  translations,  and 
the  original  itself,  and  rapidly  making  up  his  mind  as  to  their 
precise  meanings.  He  may  be  seen  to  consult  a  few  standard 
commentaries,  but  not  many;  the  text  itself  in  its  context  is 
the  source  whence  he  draws  the  meaning.  He  now  puts  a  cigar 
into  his  mouth  and  begins  to  walk  diagonally  across  his  study 
floor.  If  you  are  a  close  observer,  you  will  already  have  noted 
that  the  furniture  in  his  study  is  so  placed  that  it  gives  him  one 
diagonal  across  the  study  as  a  clear  path,  and  that  the  carpet 
shows  threadbare  along  that  diagonal.  He  has  been  making 
sermons  there  before.  He  wears  away  the  threads  of  the 
carpet  but  weaves  the  threads  of  mighty  discourses  in  place. 
Some  say  he  forms  polished  sentences,  sentence  by  sentence, 
and  files  them  above  his  brilliant  brown  eyes  to  be  called  up  in 
order  on  the  near  Sabbath.  He  says  he  does  not,  that  he  "files" 
away  the  plan  of  the  discourse  in  his  mind,  but  that  while 
he  thinks  through  the  discourse  over  and  over,  he  makes  no 
attempt  to  store  the  verbiage  of  the  dress  of  that  plan,  meaning 
to  body  forth  his  sermon  in  any  words  given  him  at  the  moment 
of  delivery. 


92         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

When  he  came  before  the  people  it  was  generally  with  a 
great  theme.  Most  themes  from  God's  word  looked  big  as 
handled  by  him;  nor  did  he  stint  himself  as  fo  time  in  han- 
dling them.  He  preached  forty  minutes,  fifty  minutes,  sixty 
minutes,  seventy  minutes,  eighty  minutes,  ninety  minutes,  rare- 
ly more.  His  average  sermon  was  perhaps,  not  under  fifty 
minutes.  During  a  considerable  portion  of  his  pastorate  in  Co- 
lumbia he  preached  three  times  a  day,  to  the  same  congrega- 
tion,— in  the  forenoon,  the  afternoon  and  in  the  evening.  This 
much  preaching  of  this  sort  shows  clearly  his  zeal  to  indoctrin- 
ate his  people.  It  is  a  clear  proof  of  his  wonderful  powers, 
also.  Only  a  very  attractive  preacher  could  have  held  the  same 
congregation  for  such  a  large  portion  of  the  successive  Lord's 
days. 

In  later  years  he  came  to  look  on  the  effort  to  hold  the 
third  service  as  largely  unprofitable  both  to  congregation  and 
preacher.  He  was  wont  to  tell  a  funny  story  of  an  experience 
of  his  in  an  afternoon  meeting.  While  preaching  one  sultry 
Sunday  afternoon  he  saw  that  a  member  of  his  congregation 
had  been  overcome  with  sleep  and  was  bending  forward  more 
and  more  toward  the  bench  in  front;  that  every  nod  of  the 
man's  head  was  bringing  that  organ  closer  to  the  back  of  his 
neighbor's  bench.  Trying  to  preach,  he  could  not  avoid  cal- 
culating the  time  that  must  elapse  before  the  sleeper  should  re-. 
ceive  a  rude  shock.  Suddenly  the  victim  of  Morpheus  gave  his 
head  the  expected  blow, — a  rousing  one.  Startled,  he  jumped 
to  his  feet.  Just  then  a  cock,  within  hearing,  gave  a  lusty 
crow;  and  the  suddenly  awakened  man  yelled,  "Fire,  fire!" 
at  the  top  of  his  voice.  Then  looking  around,  seeing  where  he 
was  and  comprehending  the  exhibition  he  had  made  of  himself, 
he  slunk  back  into  his  seat. 

This  was  one  of  the  very  few  instances  in  which  Dr.  Palmer 
was  distracted  from  his  theme.    Usually  nothing  diverted  him. 

If  throughout  this  period  Dr.  Palmer  was  energetic  in 
teaching  his  people,  he  was  no  less  marked  by  his  loyalty  to 
Christ,  the  head  of  the  Church,  in  the  application  of  His  power 
in  the  sphere  of  discipline.  Mr.  Palmer  was  at  the  time  really 
as  much  a  believer  in  the  efficacy  of  discipline  and  the  obliga- 
tion to  its  use  as  John  Calvin  ever  was.  The  records  of  the 
session  of  his  church  in  Columbia  are  the  sufficient  attestation 
to  this.  The  contingent  of  colored  members  furnished  occa- 
sions of  discipline  out  of  all  proportion  to  their  numbers ;  but 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia^  S.  C.  93 

occasions  of  discipline  were  frequently  found  in  the  life  of  the 
white  members  of  the  church.  It  was  faithfully  meted  out  to 
all  members  in  need  of  it  regardless  of  condition  or  color. 
Excommunication  was  not  infrequent.  Suspension  was  more 
common.  In  the  records  of  July  19,  1847,  we  have  a  curious 
memento  of  a  past  social  institution  as  well  as  of  his  session's 
consideration  in  dealing  with  a  negro  member.    We  read: 

"A  request  was  presented  by  Ned,  a  servant  of  Mrs.  Quigley  and  a 
member  of  this  church,  that  he  might  be  allowed  to  take  a  wife  in  town, 
notwithstanding  his  separation  from  a  woman  in  Fairfield  with  whom 
he  had  heretofore  been  living.  Different  members  of  the  session  hav- 
ing made  diligent  enquiries  into  this  case,  the  following  facts  ap- 
peared: That  Ned  had  never  been  lawfully  married  to  the  woman 
in  Fairfield,  though  at  the  time  of  his  joining  the  church  he  had  re- 
garded her  as  his  wife ;  that  they  were  now  permanently  and  effectively 
separated  by  the  wishes  of  their  respective  owners ;  and  that  the  woman 
had  been  unfaithful  to  him.  Upon  these  grounds  in  regard  to  which 
the  session  had  been  at  pains  to  gather  evidence;  and  in  consideration 
of  the  temptation  to  sin  which  beset  Ned  in  his  single  estate,  and  in 
consequence  of  the  desire  to  do  right  manifested  in  his  taking  counsel 
of  the  session,  it  was  agreed  to  grant  him  the  desired  permission." 

The  rfiost  interesting  disciplinary  struggle  was  that  whose 
history  is  told  in  the  following  excerpts  from  the  sessional 
records :  * 

"It  was  brought  to  the  notice  of  the  session  that  at  a  public  ball 
given  recently  in  compliment  to  General  Shields,*  four  of  the  members 
were  in  attendance,  besides  the  children  of  several  other  members ;  also 
at  a  fair  recently  held  by  the  order  of  the  Odd  Fellows,  raffling  was 
cotmtenanced  and  participated  in  by  several  members  of  the  church. 
The  object  of  this  meeting  of  the  sessv)n  was  *  to  confer  as  to  the  best 
method  of  arresting  this  comparatively  new  tide  of  evil  influence  set- 
ting in  upon  the  church. 


•  From  the  Records,  December  22,  1847. 

"Soon  after  the  Mexican  War  General  James  Shields  visited  G>- 
lumbia.  The  Legislature  was  in  session.  The  Famous  Palmetto  Regi- 
ment had  served  in  his  brigade  in  the  Mexican  War;  he  reported  to 
a  full  house  how  nobly  they  had  behaved.  Columbia  was  wild  with 
enthusiasm  and  gave  a  big  ball  for  the  entertainment  of  General 
Shields  in  which  these  members  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  took 
part 

*The  pastor  called  this  meeting. 


94         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

''It  appeased  in  conversation  that  considerable  diversity  of  opinion 
prevailed  among  the  members  as  to  the  impropriety  of  dancing  and 
the  sin  under  certain  circumstances,  of  attending  public  balls.  In  view 
of  this  fact,  and  the  fact  that  some  of  these  irregularities,  as  for  in- 
stance raffling,  have  probably  been  committed  thoughtlessly,  perhaps 
ignorantly,  it  was  deemed  inexpedient  by  the  session  to  enter  upon  any 
immediate  and  active  course  of  discipline.  A  paper  was  then  sub- 
mitted by  the  pastor  designed  as  a  testimony  against  these  and 
similar  evils  which  he  suggested  should  be  read  from  the  pulpit,  as 
the  expression  of  the  views,  and  an  exponent  to  the  church  of  the 
course  of  discipline  which  would  hereafter  be  pursued  by  the  session. 
The  document  being  a  stringent  one,  binding  the  session,  hereafter,  to 
a  definite  procedure,  after  a  long  conversation,  it  was  thought  best 
to  postpone  a  decision  upon  it  till  Friday  night,  or  in  order  to  allow 
for  due  reflection  on  the  part  of  the  session." 

From  the  records,  December  24,  1847,  *t  appears  that  while 
the  session  was  agreed  as  to  the  principles  in  the  testimony 
Mr.  Palmer  would  utter,  "the  majority  could  not  agree  upon 
the  expediency  of  reading  it  in  public. 

Upon  this  adverse  action  by  his  session,  he  promptly  resigned, 
giving  as  his  reason  that  his  conscience  would  not  permit  him 
to  be  the  pastor  of  a  dancing  church.  Such  at  any  rate  tradi- 
tion affirms  to  have  been  his  course.  Whatever  the  inducement, 
the  session  speedily  came  to  his  way  of  thinking  as  the  follow- 
ing from  the  Records,  December  25,  1847,  shows: 

''The  design  of  this  meeting  was  to  reintroduce  the  subject  of  the 
preceding  conferences,  as  it  was  felt  that  this  matter  was  left  in  too 
indefinite  a  position,  no  action  being  had  in  the  premises. 

"It  was  moved  to  reconsider  the  vote  passed  at  the  last  meeting,  set- 
ting aside  the  paper  submitted  by  the  pastor  designed  as  a  public 
testimony;  which  motion  prevailed.  The  paper  was  then  modified  and 
adopted  as  a  public  testimony  to  be  read  from  the  pulpit  on  Sabbath 
morning  and,  in  its  amended  form,  is  as  follows: 

"According  to  that  Scriptural  platform  of  ecclesiastical  order  to  which 
we  as  Presb3rterians  adhere,  the  whole  government  of  each  particular 
church  is  committed  to  its  own  particular  session.  Among  the  acts, 
therefore,  to  which  this  body  is  competent,  besides  the  receiving  of 
members  and  administering  the  various  kinds  of  discipline,  is  that  of  de- 
livering its  testimony  as  a  court  of  Jesus  Christ,  against  such  errors  in 
doctrine  and  practice  as  are  likely  to  prevail  among  the  people  com- 
mitted to  their  oversight.  If  'damnable  heresies'  and  injurious  prac- 
tices arise,  it  is  not  only  incumbent  on  the  pastor  as  a  preacher  of  the 
Gospel,  thus  to  testify;  but  since  the  elders  are  equally  with  him  Bishops, 
or  Overseers,  in  the  church  of  God ;  since  they  equally  hold  their  com- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  95 

mission  from  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  and  since  they  exercise  joint  power 
with  him  in  the  Presbyterate,  it  is  competent  to  them  together  with  him, 
in  their  united  capacity  as  a  church  court,  to  give  a  formal  testimony 
against  prevailing  errors.  Impressed  with  this  view  of  their  power  and 
authority,  and  fully  persuaded  that  very  dangerous  practices  are  be- 
ginning to  obtain  amongst  us,  the  session  of  this  church  now  raises 
its  voice  in  solemn  warning  and  remonstrance  in  reference  to  matters 
which  they  proceed  herewith  to  specify. 

'In  the  first  place  we  testify  against  the  iniquitous  practice  of  raffling 
at  fairs.  In  relation  to  fairs  themselves  we  do  not  feel  called  upon 
to  give  a  formal  opinion.  We  cannot  but  observe,  however,  that  often 
they  are  accompanied  with  such  evil  doings  as  to  lead  us  to  suspect 
an  inherent  vice  in  this  whole  system  of  charity  financiering.  But 
raMing  we  are  constrained  unequivocally  to  condemn.  The  lot  is  a 
divine  institution  appointed  for  the  purpose  of  rendering  a  divine  de- 
cision in  those  cases  which  men  are  unable  by  ordinary  methods  to  re- 
solve. On  the  part  of  the  creature  it  is  a  solemn  act  of  worship,  as 
much  so  as  prayer  or  praise.  It  is,  moreover,  a  direct  appeal  to  God  as 
the  moral  governor  of  the  world,  to  interpose  directly  in  the  manifesta- 
tion of  his  will.  Obviously,  therefore,  to  use  the  lot  with  irreverence 
or  levity  is  to  profane  the  name  and  perfections  of  God.  It  is  plainly 
just  such  an  offense  as  cursing  aiid  swearing  and  in  direct  violation  of 
the  third  commandment.  Nor  is  there  the  slightest  difference  as  to 
the  principle,  between  raffling  and  gambling;  and  the  identity  between 
them  is  seen  in  this,  that  the  sin  in  both  is  the  same,  an  irreverent  use 
of  the  name  and  attributes  of  God.  This  use  of  the  lot,  moreover,  is  not 
only  a  profanation  of  the  name  of  God,  it  is  also  a  mockery  of  his 
government  in  the  thoughtless  appeal  it  makes  to  the  interposition  of 
God  Should  idle  men  challenge  responses  from  the  divine  oracle  in 
the  most  frivolous  affairs,  and  in  gratification  of  their  mere  whims? 
Of  course  it  follows  that  church  members  who  countenance  raffling 
by  any  distinct  overt  act,  as  by  the  sale  or  purchase  of  chances,  sub- 
ject themselves  to  the  discipline  of  the  church. 

"In  the  second  place,  the  session  delivers  its  testimony  against  fash- 
ionable worldly  amusements,  such  as  dancing  parties,  balls,  the  theater, 
the  race  course  and  such  like.  It  may  be  difficult  to  draw  accurately 
the  line  of  demarcation  between  the  lawful  and  unlawful  pleasures  of 
the  Christian.  We  believe  that  this  is  wisely  left  in  doubt,  in  order  to 
test  the  piety  and  spiritual  knowledge  of  the  Lord's  people.  Yet  there 
is  one  obvious  principle  which  covers  this  whole  case.  Christians  are 
witnesses  for  God,  and  among  other  things  they  must  testify  concern- 
ing the  vanity  of  this  present  evil  world.  But  if  they  participate  in  the 
chosen  pleasures  of  the  world  they  do  it  at  the  expense  of  that 
testimony  they  must  bear  for  God.  The  amusements  specified  above 
are  moreover  the  acknowledged  badges  of  a  worldly  profession,  in 


96         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

some  sort  the  sacraments  of  allegiance  to  him  who  is  the  Prince  and 
God  of  this  world.  In  this  view  Christians  cannot  share  in  the  same 
without  in  so  far  forth  denying  Christ. 

*'And  as  no  Christian  has  the  right  at  any  time  to  suppress  his  right- 
eous testimony,  so  under  no  conceivable  circumstances  is  he  justified 
in  attendance  upon  those  forbidden  amusements. 

"The  session,  too,  is  constrained  to  think  that  promiscuous  dancing 
between  the  sexes  is  a  practice  injurious,  and  tends  to  immorality, 
and  should  be  in  every  possible  way  discountenanced.  Satisfied  of  the 
Scripturalness  of  these  views,  the  session  wishes  to  be  tmderstood  that 
the  giving  of  balls  and  dancing  parties,  and  attendance  upon  them, 
together  with  the  theatre,  the  opera,  and  the  race  course,  will  be  re- 
garded as  serious  offences  against  the  order  and  purity  of  the  church, 
which  require  the  exercise  in  some  one  of  its  forms  of  a  wholesome  dis- 
cipline. 

"In  the  third  and  last  place,  the  session  delivers  its  most  mature  and 
earnest  remonstrance  to  those  Christian  parents  who  permit  their 
children,  so  long  as  they  are  minors  and  under  their  control,  to  attend 
such  places  of  amusement  as  are  prohibited  to  themselves.  It  is 
bitterly  to  be  lamented  that  the  standard  of  Christian  education  is  so 
deplorably  low ;  and  one  aspect  of  this  is  the  little  restraint  thrown  upon 
youth  as  they  grow  up  and  plunge  into  the  world.  Christian  parents 
should  remember  that  at  the  baptism  of  their  children  they  brought 
themselves  under  solemn  covenant  obligations  from  which  no  power  on 
earth  can  divorce,  while  those  children  are  yet  minors.  In  the  judg- 
ment of  the  session,  the  free  indulgence  of  children  when  they  begin 
to  thirst  for  those  pleasures  which  their  parents  as  their  natural  spon- 
sors have  forsworn  in  their  behalf  is  in  contravention  of  the  baptismal 
covenant.  And  it  becomes  such  indulgent  parents  to  inquire,  while  they 
are  mourning  over  the  hardness  and  impenitency  of  their  adult  off- 
spring, if  this  is  not  righteous  retribution  of  their  infidelity  to  the 
most  stringent  oath  which  ever  was  imposed  upon  human  beings. 
We  believe  that  in  the  overwhelming  majority  of  cases  if  Christian 
parents  would  make  a  firm  stand  and  make  a  show  of  principle,  the 
children  would  yield  their  own  preferences  with  greater  or  less  cheer- 
fulness, and  thus  a  check  would  be  opposed  to  that  tide  of  worldli- 
ness  and  dissipation  which  sometimes  threatens  to  sweep  away  all 
godliness  from  the  land.  It  therefore  becomes  the  duty  of  every  church 
session  to  make  diligent  inquiry  in  all  those  cases  where  the  children, 
still  minors  of  professing  parents,  attend  balls,  dances,  theatres  and 
the  like.  And  if  such  parents  have  not  endeavored  to  use  their  in- 
fluence and  authority  to  restrain  their  children,  but  have  rather  lent 
their  sanction  or  consent,  or  connivance,  the  censures  of  the  church 
should  be  dealt  to  these  parents  according  to  the  demerits  of  each 
case,  as  though  they  had  personally  infringed  the  law  of  the  church. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  97 

"In  delivering  now  these  conclusions  which  they  have  carefully 
weighed,  the  session  would  most  earnestly  and  affectionately  exhort 
their  fellow  Christians  to  remember  whose  they  are  and  whom  they 
serve, — ^that  being  redeemed  not  with  corruptible  things  as  silver  and 
gold,  but  with  the  precious  blood  of  Christ,  they  should  glorify  God 
in  their  bodies  and  in  their  spirits  which  are  God's.  Let  us  strive  to 
walk  circumspectly,  not  as  fools,  but  as  wise,  redeeming  the  time 
because  the  days  are  evil.  Since  we  profess  to  be  'children  of  light,* 
let  us  'have  no  fellowship  with  the  unfruitful  works  of  darkness,  but 
rather  reprove  them.*  *Let  us  walk  honestly,  as  in  the  day;  not  in  riot- 
ing and  drunkenness,  not  in  chambering  and  wantonness,  not  in  strife 
and  envying.*  'But  put  ye  on  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  and  make  not 
provision  for  the  flesh  to  fulfill  the  lusts  thereof/  But  rather  let  us 
'live  soberly,  righteously,  and  godly,'  in  this  present  evil  world,  'denying 
ungodliness  and  worldly  lusts,'  looking  for  and  hastening  unto  the 
day  of  God,  when  the  Son  of  Man  shall  be  revealed  to  be  glorified 
in  his  saints.'  And  to,  'as  many  as  walk  according  to  this  rule,  peace  be 
on  them  and  mercy  and  upon  the  Israel  of  God.    Amen.' " 

His  session  went  further,  and  asked  him  to  preach  a  sermon 
on  dancing,  which  sermon  after  it  had  been  delivered,  they 
had  printed.*  In  the  course  of  the  episode  Mr.  Palmer  publicly 
declared  that  "he  would  not  baptize  the  children  of  any  parents 
who  taught  them  to  dance."'  It  does  not  appear  that  he 
would  have  gone  to  quite  such  lengths  in  his  later  life,  nor  that 
he  looked  upon  his  views  and  course  as  the  wisest  in  every  par- 
ticular; but  his  general  animus  remained  unchanged. 

He  seems  to  have  been  just  as  energetic  in  pastoral  work. 
The  very  summer  preceding  his  disciplinary  struggle,  he  and 
his  session  had  divided  the  church  and  congregation  into 
wards,  each  of  which  was  subjected  to  pastoral  visitation  by 
the  pastor  and  one  elder  working  together.  Throughout  the 
entire  pastorate  he  found  time  for  many  visits  that  seemed  lit- 
tle other  than  social.  They  were  commonly  determined  by  the 
ultimate  aim  to  strike  a  blow  for  the  Master.  He  paid  spe- 
cial attention  to  the  sick,  the  needy,  and  all  who  were  presuma- 
bly open  to  Christian  guidance.  Nor  did  he  confine  himself  to 
people  of  his  own  flock. 

The  following  story  of  a  bit  of  pastoral  work  by  him  in 
the  year  185 1  shows  somewhat  as  to  the  spirit  with  which  he 

*  Related  in  a  letter  of  Rev.  R  H.  Reid,  dated  April  13,  1904. 
'Letter  of  Basil  Edward  Lanneau,  dated  June  22,  1849. 

7 


98         Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

went  about  such  labors  for  the  Master  and  somewhat  as  to  his 
tactfulness.    He  tells  the  story  himself: 


«  n 


'Ben/  said  my  father  to  me  at  the  breakfast  table,  the  morning 
after  my  arrival  on  one  of  the  visits  annually  paid  to  the  old  home- 
stead, *do  you  remember  your  old  schoolmate,  H.  P.?' 

"'Perfectly  well,'  was  the  reply;  'it  would  take  more  than  twenty 
years  to  efface  the  recollection  of  the  most  intimate  friend  of  my 
childhood.' 

"'Well,'  rejoined  he,  'he  has  one  foot  in  the  grave,  dying  of  con* 
sumption;  and  he  is  such  an  untamed  bear  that  no  one  can  ap- 
proach him.  Possibly  you  may  gain  access  on  the  score  of  old  com- 
panionship; who  knows  what,  through  God's  grace,  may  be  the  result 
of  your  visit?' 

"Let  me  here  introduce  to  the  reader  the  person  concerning  whom 
the  above  dialogue  was  held.  H.  P.  was  the  only  son  of  a  widowed 
mother,  whose  indulgent  love  proved  unable  to  cope  with  the  passions 
of  a  headstrong  and  willful  boy.  Upon  approaching  manhood  he  broke 
away  from  every  source  of  restraint,  and  soon  lost  every  trace  of  virtue. 
In  his  swift  declension  he  not  only  abandoned  himself  to  vice  in  its 
lowest  associations,  but  took  an  insane  pleasure  in  setting  public 
sentiment  at  defiance,  until,  for  years,  he  had  come  to  be  regarded  as 
an  outcast  and  an  outlaw.  At  the  age  of  thirteen  our  paths  in  life 
diverged,  and  now,  for  the  first  time  in  twenty  years,  they  crossed 
again. 

"Toward  noon,  when  the  morning  hours  of  exhaustion  should  be 
over,  the  writer  turned  his  steps  slowly  to  the  house  of  his  invalid 
friend,  upon  the  skirts  of  the  village.  Memory  yielded  up  its  stores 
from  the  buried  past,  at  every  footfall:  the  lessons  conned  together 
under  the  master's  ferrule;  and  wild  and  noisy  sports  at  recess,  upon 
the  vilkge  green;  and  the  playmates  of  those  halcyon  days — some  of 
whom,  aias,  were  sleeping  beneath  the  turf,  over  whose  early  graves 
aged  mourners  had  too  sadly  wept  And  now  I  was  soon  to  look  upon 
the  most  melancholy  wreck  of  all.  But  somber  as  these  reflections  were, 
they  only  half  prepared  me  to  greet  the  specter  which  slowly  glided 
into  the  parlor,  leaning  wearily  upon  a  staff,  and  sinking,  exhausted, 
even  at  this  effort,  upon  the  sofa  by  my  side. 

'My  dear  H.,  it  grieves  me  to  the  heart  to  find  you  thus.' 

'Yes,  B ,  we  have  not  met  for  twenty  years;  and  if  you  had 

waited  a  few  weeks  longer,  you  must  have  searched  for  me  in  the 
graveyard  of  Old  Bethel,  where  the  solemn  oaks  droop  with  moss 
over  the  graves  of  a  century/ 

"Reader,  I  had  prayed  the  Lord  to  make  me  wise  to  win  a  soul, 
and  I  was  burdened  with  my  prayer.  Laying  the  hand  gently  upon  his 
knee,  I   said,  affectionately,   'H.,   do  not  be  angry  with  me,   for  the 


It 


«  11 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  99. 

sake  of  'ai|}d  lang  syne.'  Let  me  tell  you  what  most  distresses  me; 
it  is  that  you  are  half  way   into   eternity  and  so   unready  to   die.' 

"Sepulchral  as  his  own  cough  was  the  melancholy  response:  'B , 

it  is  of  no  use  to  talk  to  me  on  the  subject  of  religion ;  I  am  a  doomed 
man — as  sure  of  hell  as  if  already  shut  up  in  its  vault  of  fire.' 
*0h !  H.,  my  friend,  how  can  you  say  so  ?* 

'Because,  B ,  I  am  a  drunkard!  and  no  drunkard  shall  in- 
herit the  kingdom  of  God.'  His  eye  flashed  with  an  unearthly  gleam, 
as  he  fiercely  continued:  'You  do  not  know  what  sort  of  a  drunkard 
I  am;  I  carry  my  jug  to  bed  with  me  every  night — it  takes  the  place 
of  my  wife — and  I  pull  from  it  so  often  that  it  can  scarcely  be  said  to 
be  corked  at  all.  If  I  could  only  break  the  bonds  of  this  cruel  habit, 
there  might  be  hope  for  me;  but  I  have  tried,  a  thousand  times,  in 
vain.  I  am  bound,  hand  and  foot,  with  its  accursed  chains,  and  there 
is  nothing  left  for  me  but  to  drink  and  be  damned.' 

"Was  it  said  only  to  the  apostles,  'And  it  shall  be  given  you  in  that 
same  hour  what  ye  shall  speak?'  Instantly  I  replied  to  this  vehement 
and  self-accusing  speech:  'H.,  you  entirely  mistake  the  matter.  What 
you  need  is  a  Savior  to  save  you  from  your  drunkenness;  he  shall 
be  called  Jesus,  because  he  shall  save  his  people  from  their  sins.  The 
salvation  from  hell  is  only  the  result  of  this  salvation  from  sin.  You 
must  come,  dear  H.,  to  Jesus,  as  a  drunkard,  or  not  at  all.' 

"With  this,  we  bowed  together  in  prayer,  during  which  the  poor 
emaciated  frame  shook  with  sobs,  as  though  it  would  fall  to  pieces 
with  the  violence^ by  which  it  was  racked. 

"The  interview  was  too  exciting  to  be  longer  protracted;  and  during 
four  days  the  writer  was  engrossed  with  a  religious  meeting  then  in 
progress.  At  its  close,  and  just  before  returning  to  his  home,  he  called 
to  take  a  final  farewell  of  one  whom  he  was  sure  never  to  meet  again 
upon  earth.  The  same  pale,  wan  countenance  met  his  view  as  before, 
but  now  lighted  up  with  a  strange  and  happy  radiance. 

« 'B ,  a  wonderful  change  has  passed  over  me  since  you  were 

here,  and  I  do  not  know  what  to  make  of  it;  it  cannot  be  that  I  am 
a  converted  man?' 

'"I  should  not  be  in  the  least  surprised,  H.,  to  find  that  you  are; 
but  tell  me  all  about  it.' 

"'Well,'  he  replied,  'when  you  went  away  I  prayed  God  to  have 
mercy  upon  my  poor  soul,  and  all  at  once  the  shackles  fell  off  from 
me  and  I  have  been  full  of  peace  and  joy  ever  since.'  Pausing  for  a 
little  fuller  statement  before  committing  myself  to  a  reply,  he  resumed : 

"  'B ,  I  ana  a  very  ignorant  man — ^it  is  many  years  since  I  have 

been  within  the  walls  of  a  church,  and  I  have  forgotten  almost  every- 
thing my  pious  old  mother  taught  me  at  her  knee.  But  I  want  to  tell 
you  what  I  think  the  Gospel  is,  and  where  I  am  wrong  you  will  correct 
me.'     Promising  to  be  very  honest  in  my  criticism,  he  proceeded:     *I 


i 


loo       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

think  then  that  we  are  all  born  into  the  world  with  wicked  hearts,  and 
guilty  and  condemned  from  our  birth;  that  Jesus  Christ  is  come  into 
the  world  to  save  us,  if  we  will  only  trust  entirely  in  him — but  that 
He  won't  be  a  half  Savior  to  anybody.  I  must  not  do  the  best  I  can 
and  then  come  to  him  to  complete  what  remains;  but  I  must  come  at 
once,  just  so,  and  let  him  do  the  whole  work,  from  beginning  to  end. 
He  will  be  a  whole  Savior,  or  none.    Is  that  the  Gospel?* 

"Grasping  his  hand  in  both  of  mine,  I  replied  in  a  voice  husky  with 
emotion,  'H.,  if  you  had  been  a  Doctor  of  Divijiity  for  fifty  years, 
you  could  not  have  put  it  better ;'  and  kneeling  down  upon  the  same  spot 
where  we  had  prayed  before,  we  blessed  the  God  and  Father  of  our 
Lord  Jesus  Christ,  who,  according  to  his  abundant  mercy,  had  begotten 
him  again  unto  such  a  lively  hope. 

"Upon  reciting  the  conversation  to  my  venerable  parent,  I  said: 
'With  your  experience  and  observation,  so  much  larger  than  my  own, 
would  you  not  take  this  to  be  an  illustration  of  Christ's  word,  he  "that 
hath  heard  and  hath  learned  of  the  Father,  cometh  unto  me  ?" ' 

"'Yes,'  was  the  reply;  'the  natural  man  receiveth  not  the  things  of 
the  Spirit  of  God:  .  .  .  neither  can  he  know  them,  because  they  arc 
spiritually  discerned.' 

"I  returned  to  my  distant  home,  rejoicing  in  the  conviction  that  one 
who  had  so  clearly  grasped  the  central  truth  of  a  whole  Savior,  must  be 
born  of  God.  It  was,  however,  a  grateful  assurance,  to  learn  that  after 
three  months  of  suffering,  which  yet  were  brighter  with  evidences  of 
grace,  my  poor  friend  mounted  aloft  with  rejoicing  and  song  into  the 
rest  of  the  redeemed."  ^  ^ 

This  pastor  often  had  a  remarkably  masterful  way  of  deal- 
ing with  men  and  women,  though  owing  to  his  courtesy  and 
grace  of  manner,  they  seldom  found  anything  to  criticise  in 
his  bearing.  One  day  a  young  girl  of  sixteen  came  into  his 
study  to  talk  with  him  about  uniting  with  the  church.  Appa- 
rently he  thought  he  understood  her  case ;  and  he  handed  her 
a  slip  of  paper  with  a  hymn  on  it  which  she  had  never  before 
seen.    The  hymn  began, 

"Just  as  I  am  without  one  plea," 

Bidding  her  read  and  ponder  that  hymn,  he  dismissed  her. 
It  proved  to  be  enough. 

He  habitually  discovered  extraordinary  tact  in  approaching 
men  on  the  subject  of  religion.  He  habitually  kept  his  head 
in  talking  with  those  in  distress,  or  near  to  death.    The  won- 

'  This  story  was  written  by  Dr.  Palmer,  and  published  by  the  Presby- 
terian Committee  of  Publication,  Richmond,  Va.,  in  tract  form. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  ioi 

derful  self-command  which  he  showed  in  the  pulpit  he  mani- 
fested everywhere.  This  did  not  even  forsake  him  by  the  bed- 
side of  his  dying  mother. 

His  mother  died  in  November  1847.  He  was  with  her  for 
some  days  before  her  death.  He  wrote  an  obituary  of  her 
which  was  published  in  the  Watchman  and  Observer,  soon  af- 
ter. That  obituary  gives  numerous  though  veiled  references 
to  himself,  under  the  phrases  "one  of  her  sons,"  "an  attendant," 
and  the  like.  His  mother  had  been  such  a  force  in  his  life 
for  good;  the  picture  given  of  her  character,  in  this  obituary, 
is  so  much  the  picture  of  his  own  character,  as  to  force,  in- 
tensity, consecration  to  duty,  and  method  in  its  performance, 
that  its  reproduction  in  this  memoir  is  entirely  pertinent.  The 
view  given  of  himself  as  her  virtual  pastoral  guide  beside  her 
dying  bed  suggests  that  it  may  be  properly  presented  in  con- 
nection with  this  account  of  his  pastoral  work.    It  is  as  follows : 

"The  same  pious  affection  which  leads  us  to  place  the  monumental 
marble  over  the  graves  of  departed  friends,  prompts  often  the  desire 
of  sketching  for  the  admiration  of  others,  those  living  virtues  which 
ever  draw  forth  our  own  affection.  If,  too,  those  who  die  have  'lived 
by  faith  in  the  Son  of  God,  adorned  with  charity  and  zeal'  and  we  have 
followed  them  with  cautious  and  timid  feet,  as  far  as  is  permitted  to  the 
living,  down  into  'the  valley  of  the  shadow  of  death;'  and  have  there 
witnessed  the  triumph  sometimes  awarded  to  believers  in  their  conflict 
with  the  last  enemy,  'there  is  added  the  spiritual  desire  of  reading  aloud 
the  lesson  of  instruction  which  the  grave  of  a  saint  affords.  It  is 
with  this  mingled  desire  of  profiting  the  living,  while  gratifying  the 
instinct  of  mere  natural  affection,  the  writer  presents  the  following  me- 
morial of  Mrs.  Sarah  Palmer,  wife  of  Rev.  Edward  Palmer,  who  de- 
parted this  life  at  Walterboro,*  on  the  nth  of  November,  1847,  having 
nearly  completed  her  6oth  year. 

"At  an  early  age,  just  as  she  was  blooming  into  womanhood,  she 
became  the  subject  of  renewing  grace  under  the  pastoral  influence  of 
the  venerable  Dr.  Ashbel  Green,  of  whom  she  always  spoke  with  the 
utmost  affection  as  her  spiritual  father.  A  few  years  after,  her  elder 
sister  being  wedded  to  the  Rev.  B.  M.  (afterwards  Dr.)  Palmer,  she 
came  South  and  was  united  in  marriage  to  Mr.  Edward  Palmer,  then 
residing  in  the  city  of  Charleston,  who  still  survives  to  mourn  her 
loss  after  a  union  of  thirty-six  years.  Upon  her  marriage  she  entered 
with  an  ardor  characteristic  of  her  family  upon  all  those  acts  of  system- 
atic benevolence  which  in  populous  cities  bring  into  exercise  the  graces 
of  a  pious  female.  In  her  attention  to  the  wants  of  the  poor,  the  sick 
and  the  orphan,  in  city  missionary  operations,  in  tract  distribution, 
in  Sabbath-schools,  in  every  form  of  pious  but  unobtrusive  labor,  she 


I02        Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

was  unwearied.  She  became  thus  endeared  to  a  large  circle  of  pious 
friends  from  whose  affectionate  remembrance  no  length  of  time  ever 
separated  her.  Years  rolled  by  and  she  became  the  mother  of  five  chil- 
dren, four  of  them  living,  when  she  was  called  to  attest  her  love  to  the 
Savior  and  his  kingdom  by  a  very  unusual  exercise  of  patience  and  of 
faith.  Her  husband  having  become  'a  new  creature  in  Christ  Jesus' 
felt  himself  called  to  serve  God  and  his  generation  in  the  work  of  the 
ministry.  For  this  purpose  he  abandoned  a  lucrative  business  and  sep- 
arated himself  from  the  endearments  of  home  for  a  period  of  three 
years,  while  pursuing  the  study  of  divinity  in  the  Theological  School  at 
Andover.  To  some  the  sacrifice  may  appear  easy,  as  it  was  only  of 
personal  comfort  and  domestic  enjoyment:  but  all  experience  and  ob- 
servation show  that  far  greater  resolution  is  required  to  wear  for 
years  a  fretting  yoke,  and  still  'possess  the  soul  in  patience,*  than  to 
make  for  once  a  lofty  sacrifice,  the  pang  of  which,  though  severe,  is 
short.  For  three  years  did  this  noble  woman  nerve  her  soul  to  endure 
a  quasi- widowhood,  and  with  painful  labor  wrought  she  with  her  own 
hands  to  give  her  children  daily  bread.  The  God  of  the  Covenant, 
who  sustained  her  in  all,  was  pleased  yet  to  bring  her  faith  to  severe 
test  During  this  bitter  separation,  death  claimed  his  tribute  of  her  and 
chose  the  two  loveliest  of  her  babes.  Yet  this  bereaved  mother  in 
loneliness  bore  her  sorrows,  and  sent  no  wish  after  him  whose  voice 
could  alone  cheer,  because  his  heart  alone  was  pierced  with  like  sorrow. 
The  vow  of  consecration  was  in  her  heart,  and  the  same  love  to  God  and 
the  souls  of  men  which  placed  the  gift  upon  the  altar,  saved  her  from 
the  sacrilege  of  recalling  it  Through  this  training  she  passed  to  be- 
come the  pastor's  wife,  which  in  due  season  she  was,  and  the  dimin- 
ished family  once  more  met 

"In  this  new  relation  we  now  contemplate  her  to  the  end  of  life, 
during  twenty-four  years  of  increasing  usefulness,  happiness  and  honor. 
Few  persons  were  better  fitted  by  nature  and  by  grace  to  fufiU  the  du- 
ties of  this  responsible  and  difficult  station:  so  adapted  was  she  to  all, 
it  would  not  be  easy  to  decide  in  which  she  most  excelled.  Her  singu- 
larly active  mind  made  her  inventive  to  do  good:  what  plans  she 
formed,  her  natural  enthusiasm  enabled  her  to  prosecute  with  ardor; 
and  her  firm  will  bore  her  to  the  end  without  failure,  almost  without 
fatigue.  It  were  hard  to  say  whether  she  was  most  fruitful  in  planning, 
most  ardent  in  commencing,  or  most  patient  in  completing.  Affectionate 
and  conversable,  she  was  the  confidante  of  the  young;  serious  and 
thoughtful,  she  was  the  companion  of  the  old;  gentle  and  sympathizing, 
she  was  a  comfort  to  the  sorrowing;  experienced  and  winning,  she  as- 
sured the  timid  and  resolved  the  scruples  of  the  desponding.  Wholly 
unselfish,  her  natural  kindness  went  out  in  sympathy  with  all  the  feel- 
ings of  the  happy;  while  her  depth  of  soul  could  always  measure  the 
woes  of  the  wretched.    Thus  rarely  endowed,  she  became  pre-eminently 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  103 

'a  mother  in  Israel/  and  the  grave  must  cover  many  a  beating  heart  be- 
fore she  is  forgotten  upon  earth. 

"In  her  more  private  and  domestic  relations  she  sustained  the  same 
high  position,  of  a  woman  equal  to  all  her  trusts.  Industrious  and 
thrifty,  she  turned  to  the  best  account  a  country  pastor's  narrow  stipend. 
Her  practiced  and  vigilant  eye  looked  through  her  household,  no  de- 
partment escaping  her  constant  supervision.  Yet  while  thus  driven 
by  necessity  into  the  detail  and  drudgery  of  life,  none  knew  better  how 
to  'redeem  the  time'  for  intellectual  and  spiritual  purposes.  The  habit 
of  early  rising  gave  her  an.  hour  before  the  day  began  its  busy  hum, 
and  through  the  long  working  hours  she  would  snatch  brief  intervals 
for  reading.  A  book  was  always  on  her  table,  and  some  subjects  always 
on  her  mind  for  study  and  conversation.  Thus  she  became  the  com- 
panion of  the  husband,  sharing  his  thoughts  and  studies:  and  the 
transient  clergyman  who  passed  a  night  beneath  her  roof  never  failed 
to  carry  away  a  deep  impression  of  her  intelligence  and  worth. 

"For  the  office  of  a  mother  she  displayed  a  surpassing  fitness.  Always 
the  teacher  of  her  young  children,  she  had  the  double  faculty  of  let- 
ting herself  down  into  their  minds  and  of  feeling  a  real  sympathy 
with  their  vivid  emotions.  So  entire  was  the  ascendency  she  thereby 
acquired  over  them  that  her  sons,  in  all  the  rudeness  of  boyhood,  never 
knew  the  time  when  they  would  not  gladly  exchange  the  sports  and 
playmates  of  the  field  for  the  quiet  conversation  of  their  mother  at  her 
work-table.  Mingling  gentleness  with  decision,  she  was  able  to  add 
guidance  to  discipline;  and  seizing  those  moments  when  they  yielded 
themselves  without  prejudice  or  passion  to  her  influence,  her  speech 
distilled  upon  them  like  dew  upon  the  mown  grass.  She  never  ser- 
monized, but  dropping  occasional  remarks  with  little  apparent  design 
furnished  them  with  maxims  suited  to  all  the  conditions  of  Ufe.  Let 
not  the  reader  regard  these  as  mere  commonplaces,  uttered  to  fill  a 
period.  Who  that  looks  back  upon  the  guilty  and  critical  passages  of 
his  life,  will  not  bless  God  for  the  gift  of  a  pious  mother,  feeling  that 
it  is  her  hand  that  has  plucked  him  from  mini  There  are  seasons  of 
recklessness  in  youth  when  we  can  place  our  profane  feet  upon  every- 
thing save  a  mother's  love ;  and  a  mother's  love  has  often  quenched  the 
fire  which  force  and  authority  would  have  fanned  into  a  powerful 
flame.  This  pious  mother  met  with  a  pious  mother's  reward.  Of  her 
eight  children,  four  preceded  her  to  the  world  of  bliss  above;  four 
wept  around  her  grave,  but  these  four  trust  in  their  mother's  God,  and 
the  two  sons  preach  that  Jesus  in  who*n  they  believe,  and  whom  their 
mother  confessed  on  her  dying  bed. 

"Following  such  a  Christian  through  a  long  life  of  rare  usefulness 
and  high  communion  with  God,  we  naturally  look  for  an  end  of  peace 
if  not  of  joy.  And  surely  no  iiour  of  her  life  was  more  brilliant  than 
that  which  closed  her  record  upon  earth.    By  a  remarkable  dispensation 


I04       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  Divine  Providence  her  brother  and  sister,  the  Rev.  Dr.  and  Mrs. 
Palmer,  were  removed  by  death  within  a  single  week,  on  the  9th  and 
i6th  of  October.  This  double  shock,  together  with  the  fatigue  and  ex- 
citement attending  the  funeral  of  her  sister  in  Charleston,  was  too  much 
for  her  feeble  and  somewhat  nervous  system.  On  the  2Sth  of  October, 
the  day  of  her  return  from  her  melancholy  visit  to  Charleston,  the  fatal 
disease  developed  itself,  which  in  sixteen  day  removed  her  from  all 
sin  and  care  to  the  rest  above.  In  the  commencement  of  her  sickness 
her  hope  was  somewhat  obscured,  and  she  called  upon  her  husband  and 
children  to  pray  that  Christ  would  reveal  himself  to  her,  and  that 
she  might  enjoy  the  fullest  assurance  of  her  acceptance  with  God. 
Very  soon  she  said,  'I  feel  that  your  prayers  have  been  heard.  I  am 
delivered  from  darkness  and  see  and  feel  Jesus  to  be  my  Savior.' 
From  that  moment  she  rejoiced  in  an  unclouded  assurance  of  hope  to 
the  end.  As  she  lay,  often  apparently  asleep  and  unconscious,  her 
frequent  exclamations,  'Wonderful  love!'  'Precious  salvation!'  evinced 
that  her  soul  was  absorbed  in  adoring  views  of  God's  love  and  mercy 
in  Christ  More  than  once,  speaking  of  Christ  as  a  complete  Savior, 
she  exclaimed :  'What  a  wretched  religion  the  Unitarian  has — ^he  has  no 
God  for  his  Savior !'  On  one  occasion  a  portion  of  the  89th  Psalm  was 
read  to  her ;  she  responded  with  animation  to  the  verses  which  set  forth 
the  perpetuity  of  God's  covenant  with  his  people;  and  to  the  person 
who  prayed  she  remarked,  'I  always  love  to  hear  you  pray,  because  you 
dwell  so  much  upon  God's  covenant — that  is  my  hope.'  To  this  she 
several  times  referred,  rejoicing  that  God's  love  was  spontaneous,  and 
his  favor  not  doled  out  according  to  the  measure  of  our  poor  ser- 
vices. When  asked  if  death  was  at  all  terrible  to  her,  she  replied,  'Not 
at  all  so  now,  but  it  may  be  otherwise  at  the  last :  pray  for  special  grace 
in  that  trying  moment.' 

"On  Sabbath,  her  husband  approached  her  bed  and  asked  if  he  should 
remain  with  her  during  the  day:  'No,'  she  answered,  'go  and  do 
your  Master's  work,  go  and  preach.'  On  the  following  Sabbath  she 
said  to  one  of  her  sons  who  had  preached,  'I  wish  I  could  have  heard 
you  to-day;  you  preached  upon  the  believer's  future  likeness  to  Christ 
in  Heaven.'  He  replied,  'Mother,  you  may  soon  know  that  mystery 
fully.'  *0h,  it  is  a  sweet  promise,'  was  her  full  response.  In  the 
evening,  the  family  being  alone  with  her,  all  her  children  save  one — 
like  herself  on  a  sick  bed, — she  asked  for  a  hymn  to  be  sung.  The 
words  'Come,  Holy  Spirit,  heavenly  dove,*  were  chosen;  it  must  have 
been  to  her  like  the  music  of  Heaven,  for  at  each  line  she  would  ex- 
claim, lifting  her  hands,  'Oh,  how  sweet' 

"On  Wednesday,  the  loth  of  November,  deep  gloom  settled  upon 
every  countenance,  for  the  appointed  hour  was  nigh.  She  was  told, 
'You  are  very  low,  very  near  to  death';  her  calm  reply  betrayed  no 
surprise:  'I  suppose  the  doctor  has  done  his  best'  A  few  directions 
were  then  given  to  her  daughters,  and  she  assumed  the  posture  of  one 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  105 

waiting  to  depart.  'I  shall  soon  be  at  rest,  by  the  side  of  dear  Mary 
Jane ;  how  sweet  it  will  be !'  As  the  day  rolled  on  she  seemed  impatient 
to  be  gone:  'Come,  Lord  Jesus,'  *Why  delayeth  his  chariot?'  and 
such  like  expressions  indicated  how  her  spirit  panted  after  rest  She 
was  asked,  'Why  are  you  anxious  to  die?*  'It  is  better  to  be  in 
heaven.'  'Why  do  you  wish  to  be  in  heaven?'  'Because  it  is  a  place  of 
holiness;  that  is  the  chief  attraction.'  When  the  night  closed  in  she 
said,  'I  thought  all  day  the  time  was  about  fixed  for.  me  to  go.'  She 
was  asked,  what  she  thought  then:  her  reply  was,  'God  acts  like  a 
sovereign  in  his  own  way.'  She  was  reminded  that  there  is  an  ap- 
pointed time  for  man  upon  the  earth:  'Yes,'  was  her  answer,  'and 
that  bound  none  shall  pass.'  Being  asked  if  she  felt  that  all  was  well 
with  her  she  replied,  'Yes,  I  am  very  sure.' 

"A  few  hours  after,  the  last  change  passed  over  her  previous  to 
death ;  the  glazed  eye  and  heavy  respiration  betokened  its  near  approach. 
Her  husband  took  her  hand  and  sought  a  recognition;  but  in  vain — 
various  questions  were  put,  which  showed  that  every  senee  was  locked 
up  to  this  world,  she  knew  neither  face  nor  voice  of  those  $he  loved 
best  on  earth.  At  this  moment,  an  attendant  whispered  to  her  those 
words,  'God  is  our  refuge  and  strength.'  She  immediately  added,  to  the 
joy  and  wonder  of  all,  'and  a  very  present  help,'  the  sentence  was  fin- 
ished for  her,  'in  the  time  of  trouble.'  Again  it  was  whispered  in  her 
ear,  *I  have  loved  thee  with  an  everlasting  love:'  she  rejoined,  'and  with 
loving  kindness  have  I  drawn  thee.'  Desirous  of  knowing  how  far  she 
was  alive  to  spiritual  things  while  dead  to  those  of  earth,  it  was  whis- 
pered to  her,  'There  is  now  no  condemnation  to  them  which  are  in 
Christ  Jesus:'  with  slight  verbal  inaccuracy  she  finished  the  passage 
'who  walketh  not  after  the  flesh  but  after  the  spirit'  Finally  these 
words  of  Paul  were  repeated,  'I  know  in  whom  I  have  believed':  her 
dying  lips  concluded  the  testimony  of  an  assured  believer,  'and  that  he 
is  able  to  keep  that  which  I  have  committed  to  him  until  that  day.' 
These  were  her  last  articulate  words.  Who  can  desire  a  more  brilliant 
end,  than  to  make  the  last  use  of  the  organs  of  speech  in  uttering  such 
words  pregnant  with  a  calm  assurance?  Soon  after  midnight,  she 
slept  the  sleep  which  knows  no  waking.  Thus  lived  and  thus  died  one 
of  the  Lord's  hidden  ones.  One  grave  holds  her  poor  body,  but  many 
hearts  her  memory ;  and  desolate  as  the  home  is  which  she  has  left,  her 
partner  and  her  children  would  rather  give  themselves  to  so  blessed  a 
death,  than  to  mourn  for  her.  She  rests,  and  so  shall  we,  dear  reader. 
May  our  work  be  done  as  well." 

Without  such  a  mother  Mr.  Palmer  had  not  been  such  a  pas- 
tor. Perhaps  her  early  death  served  to  accentuate  the  influence 
she  had  so  long  and  so  happily  exerted  over  her  son. 

June  2,  1844,  little  Benjamin  Blakeley,  his  first  born,  had 
been  taken  away  from  his  earthly  home,  by  the  gracious  God 


io6       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  the  covenant.  He  wanted  a  month  and  twenty-four  days 
of  being  two  years  of  age. 

His  father  had  found  in  him  and  the  vast  responsibilities 
that  came  with  him,  a  "new  divinity  school  with  richer  teach- 
ings than  that  which  had  trained  him  and  sent"  him  forth  to 
his  life  work.  "A  grand  theology  was  forming  itself  out  of 
these  experiences ;  where  every  thought  was  turned  into  prayer, 
and  knowledge  glided  into  worship."  During  twenty  months 
he  had  indulged  in  the  proud  joy  of  fatherhood,  and  in  pious 
musings  had  outlined  his  son's  career,  and  placed  him  as  his 
own  successor  behind  the  sacred  desk.  Then  through  two 
months  he  had  seen  him  wither  away ;  for  an  angel's  wing  had 
"touched  the  babe  and  dropped  into  its  cradle  the  call  to 
higher  ministries  beyond  the  skies;"  and  the  father  had 
learned  other  deep  lessons  in  the  philosophy  which  has  Jehovah 
for  its  author.  He  had  learned,  too,  the  comfort  wherewith 
to  comfort  others.  How  many  homes  in  Columbia,  and  far  off 
New  Orleans  and  elsewhere  were  to  be  the  better  off  for  that 
little  fellow's  mission ! 

Into  the  home  thus  bereft  of  the  dear  little  boy,  there 
came,  while  the  parents  were  in  Columbia,  five  little  girls, 
each  with  her  own  mission  and  ministry.  Amongst  them  was 
^  one  with  eyes  and  coloring  much  like  those  of  the  little  brother 
whom  she  had  lost  long  before  her  own  birth.  When  she 
grew  old  enough  to  talk,  "her  baby  accents  lisped  continually 
of  another  world."  A  score  of  years  later  the  father  recalled 
these  strange  words  of  this  babe  of  three  winters: 

"When  I  went  to  Heaven,"  she  used  to  say,  "I  saw  a  big  white 
gate  with  a  man  standing  just  inside.  Before  it  was  a  pool  of  water 
with  a  board  across  it;  and  the  man  said,  'Come  in,  Sissy,  but  don't 
fall  in.'  But  I  fell  in;  and  he  took  me  out  into  a  room  in  which  there 
were  a  great  many  glory-children,  and  dressed  me  in  white  wings  like 
theirs.  Then  he  took  me  to  see  God.  I  saw  a  big  red  pillow  with 
five  dots,  that  God  rests  on.  And,  mother,  there  were  two  gold  rock- 
ing chairs  for  you  and  father,  and  five  little  ones  for  us  children.  And, 
Mauma  [her  nurse],  there  was  a  beautiful  white  satin  dress  for  you. 
It  felt  so  smooth;  just  put  your  hand  on  your  hair,  it  felt  just  like  that. 
I  wanted  to  bring  it  to  you ;  but  when  I  went  to  take  it,  it  just  slipped 
away.  And  now  I  spend  every  Sunday  in  Heaven  with  God  He  puts 
a  ladder  for  me  every  Saturday  evening,  and  I  go  up  and  come  home 
on  Monday.'** 

*  Broken  Home,  p.  57. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  107 

When  Mr.  Palmer  went  to  Columbia  he  found  his  con- 
gregation worshipping  in  a  bam-like  structure  of  rather  mod- 
est dimensions.  It  soon  became  insufficient  for  his  congre- 
gation. Toward  the  end  of  his  pastorate  there,  he  led  his 
people  to  erect  a  new  church  edifice.  In  the  year  1853,  after 
the  usual  trials  and  tribulations  of  builders,  the  present  edifice 
was  ready  for  use.  It  was  formally  dedicated  to  the  service 
of  God,  on  Sabbath  morning,  October  9,  1853,  by  the  pastor ; 
whosie  theme  of  discourse  on  the  occasion  was,  the  "Warrant 
and  Nature  of  Public  Service." 

The  discourse  is  presented  entire,  as  illustrating  his  ideals 

of  his  own  duty  as  the  minister  of  worship  in  that  church; 

and  as  a  fine  type  of  the  sermon  he  was  aiming  to  give  his 

people : 

John  4:23,  24. 

"The  Hour  Cometh,  and  Now  is.  When  the  True  Worshippers 
Shall  Worship  the  Father  in  Spirit  and  in  Truth:  for  the 
Father  Seeketh  Such  to  Worship  Him.  God  is  a  Spirit:  and 
They  That  Worship  Him  Must  Worship  Him  in  Spirit  and  in 
Truth." 

It  is  an  advantage  sometimes  accruing  from  unusual  solemnitieSi 
that  attention  is  directed  to  those  ordinary  rites,  which  pass  current 
under  the  sanction  of  usage  and  prescription,  rather  than  from  an  in- 
telligent conviction  of  their  nature  and  design.  Thus,  at  the  threshold 
of  our  services  to-day,  questions  break  upon  us,  from  the  depths  of 
the  eternal  world,  like  the  surf  of  the  seashore,  which  gives  presage 
of  the  boundless  and  surging  ocean.  We  meet  professedly,  with  pub- 
lic forms,  to  devote  to  the  service  of  God  this  elegant  structure,  a 
monument  both  of  the  liberality  and  taste  of  the  congregation  by  whom 
it  has  been  reared.  But  what  is  meant  precisely  by  this  act  of  dedica- 
tion? Do  we  hope,  by  the  incantations  of  a  spiritual  magic,  to  trans- 
form this  building  of  stone  and  mortar  into  a  true  and  real  temple? 
Can  any  amount  of  priestly  benedictions  put  holiness  into  these  beams 
and  timbers?  Surely  not  Let  the  wizards  peep  and  mutter  as  they 
may,  the  brick  and  the  marble  confess  themselves  incapable  of  that  holi- 
ness which  is  an  attribute  of  sentient  and  rational  beings  only.  If, 
under  the  Jewish  Dispensation,  the  consecration  of  particular  local- 
ities was  enjoined,  this  was  due  to  the  typical  character  of  that  mys- 
terious economy.  Jerusalem  and  Zion  were  only  because  Jehovah 
chose  there  for  a  season  to  reveal  his  presence.  It  was  the  Shekinah 
between  the  Cherubim  which  made  the  tabernacle  holy.  But  the  taber- 
nacle, with  its  chambers  and  its  courts,  its  altars  and  its  ark,  its 
vessels  and  its  veil,  was  but  a  type  of  Christ's  humanity,  and  of  the 
great  priestly  work  to  which  this  was  needful.    Only  until  "the  fulness 


io8       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  time  should  come,"  did  it  please  God  to  dwell  in  temples  made  with 
hands.  Now  he  dwelleth  in  the  Incarnate  Word,  which  is  "the  true 
tabernacle  that  the  Lord  pitched,  and  not  man," — "the  greater  and  more 
perfect  tabernacle,  not  made  with  hands, — not  of  this  building."  It 
is,  my  brethren,  a  melancholy  proof  how  little  we  are  imbued  with  the 
spirit  of  the  Gospel,  that  good  Christians  should  still  "speak  half  in  the 
speech  of  Ashdod."  A  vain  superstition  still  babbles,  in  the  dialect  of 
obsolete  Judaism,  about  temples,  and  altars,  and  priests,  as  though  these 
were  anything  more  than  "figures  of  the  truth,  for  the  time  then 
present."  As  the  only  Priest  known  to  the  Gospel  is  that  High  Priest, 
who  by  "his  own  blood  entered  into  the  Holy  Place,  having  obtained 
eternal  redemption  for  us," — so  the  only  temple  now  on  earth  is  that 
which  is  "builded  together  for  an  habitation  of  God  through  the  spirit," 
the  stones  of  which  are  living  stones,  taken,  indeed,  from  the  quarry  of 
corrupt  human  nature,  but  polished  after  the  similitude  of  a  palace,  in 
which  God  dwells  by  his  Spirit.  This  dedication,  then,  imparts  no 
sanctity  to  this  material  edifice.  In  the  language  of  another,  "No 
pompous  ceremonies,  no  solemn  forms,  no  magnificent  appearances,  no 
gaudy  or  golden  solemnities,  can  sanctify  any  place  unto  God  and  his 
worship,  or  make  it  more  holy  than  it  was  before.  And  though  when  a 
commodious  building  is  erected  for  the  worship  of  God,  it  is  a  very 
decent  thing  to  begin  the  worship  at  that  place  with  solemn  prayer  or 
addresses  to  Go4;  yet,  all  this  human  prudence,  this  natural  decency, 
and  all  these  prayers,  do  not  amount  to  the  sanctifying  the  spot  of 
ground  or  the  building,  so  as  to  make  it  holier  than  the  rest,  or  put 
any  such  holiness  upon  it  as  belonged  to  the  Jewish  people.""  Then, 
"what  mean  we  by  this  service?"  Why  this  lifting  up  of  our  hands, 
this  invocation  of  the  adorable  and  incomprehensible  Trinity,  these 
chants  and  Psalms  of  praise?  We  do  but  set  apart,  in  solemn  phrase, 
this  House  to  the  public  worship  of  Almighty  God.  A  sense  of  pro- 
priety would  dictate,  on  opening  a  house  of  worship,  that  God's  bless- 
ing should  be  implored  upon  all  the  ordinances  to  be  dispensed  therein ; 
and  the  character  of  those  associations  should  be  declared,  which  are 
henceforth  to  invest  the  worshipper. 

But  the  antecedent  inquiry  arises,  why  should  men  meet  in  public 
assembly  to  render  united  homage  to  the  God  of  Heaven?  If,  as  is 
often  alleged,  and  in  a  high  sense  is  most  emphatically  true,  if  religion 
be  only  the  name  of  man's  individual  relations  to  God,  lying  only 
between  the  conscience  of  the  creature  and  the  authority  of  the  Cre- 
ator, what  distinctly  is  the  warrant  for  these  public  convocations? 
Why  is  it  not  enough,  in  the  elegant  language  of  Jeremy  Taylor,  that 
"every  man  shall  build  a  chapel  in  his  own  breast,  and  himself  be  the 
priest,  and  his  heart  the  sacrifice,  and  every  foot  of  glebe  he  treads 
on  be  the  altar?"    It  does  not  satisfy  this  inquiry  that  so  it  has  been 

•Dr.  Watts'  "Discourse  on  the  Holiness  of  Places."- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  109 

through  all  periods  of  time,  and  uhder  every  dispensation  the  voice  of 
assembled  worshippers  has  gone  up  to  Heaven,  as  "the  sound  of  many 
waters."  The  universality  of  this  public  worship  is,  indeed,  fully  at- 
tested by  the  seal  of  history.  If,  from  the  present  moment,  we  ascend, 
through  intervening  generations,  to  apostolic  and  primitive  Christian- 
ity, our  march  will  be  through  assemblies  more  or  less  august,  till  we 
sit  down  with  the  church  that  was  in  the  house  of  Philemon  or  Aquilla. 
If  we  cross  the  line  which  separates  the  Christian  from  the  Jewish 
economy,  our  feet  stand  upon  the  threshold  of  the  synagogue,  in  which, 
from  the  captivity,  if  not  from  a  remoter  age,  all  the  parts  of  natural 
worship — ^prayer,  and  praise  and  reading  of  the  Law,  were  continually 
performed.  With  the  myriads  of  Israel  again  we  go  up  to  the  holy  hill 
of  2ion,  where,  in  the  temple  of  Solomon,  or  the  tabernacle,  its  pattern, 
we  wait  upon  those  ceremonial  and  positive  institutions  which  God  ex- 
pressly ordained.  Three  times  a  year  a  nation  trod  with  solemn  feet 
the  courts  of  Jerusalem,  and  a  nation's  anthem  went  up  in  praise, 
while  a  nation's  repentance  smoked  in  the  blood  of  unnumbered  vic- 
tims. If  again  we  penetrate  the  haze  which  hangs  around  the  Patri- 
archal Dispensation,  when  the  earth  was  young,  when  the  ruler  was  a 
priest,  and  the  priest  a  father,  we  find  dim  traces  of  chosen  spots  hon- 
ored with  the  symbols  of  God's  presence,  and  where  lingers  faintly  the 
echo  of  a  united  worship.*^^  So  that  across  the  track  of  sixty  centuries, 
from  the  moment  when  we  gathered  in  this  assembly  to  the  day  when 
Paul  stood  on  Mars'  Hill,  and  from  Peter  in  the  streets  of  Jerusalem  to 
Noah,  a  preacher  of  righteousness  to  sinners  before  the  flood,  the  Lord's 
"faithfulness  has  always  been  declared  in  the  congregation  of  His 
Saints."  But  this  universality  of  public  worship  binds  us  with  the 
authority  of  prescription  only,  not  of  law.  It  proves  that  some  prin- 
ciple exists  in  man,  prompting  to  these  joint  acts  of  worship,  but  does 
not  declare  what  that  principle  is.  Nor  if  it  did,  would  the  mere  suita- 
bleness of  this  worship,  recommending  it  to  such  universal  consent, 
be  deemed  a  sufficient  basis  upon  which  to  rest  the  duty. 

Nor  does  it  satisfy  this  inquiry  to  point  out  the  public  benefits  flow- 
ing from  the  practice.  These  blessings  cannot  be  exaggerated,  though 
depicted  in  the  deepest  colors  the  most  lively  fancy  shall  invent 
"Religion,"  it  has  been  well  said,  "is  the  ligature  of  souls,  and  the 
great  instrument  of  the  conservation  of  bodies  politic,  and  is  united  in 
a  common  object,  the  God  of  all  the  world,  and  is  managed  by  public 
ministries,  by  sacrifice,  adoration  and  prayer,  in  which,  with  variety  of 
circumstances  indeed,  but  with  infinite  consent  and  union  of  design, 
all  the  sons  of  Adam  are  taught  to  worship  God,""  Science  teaches 
that  the  harmony  of  the  material  universe  depends  upon  one  pervading 
natural  law.     The  power  of  mutual  attraction,  which  holds  together 

"  See  Blunt's  Coincidences  in  the  Writings  of  the  O.  T.,  Part  I. 
"Jeremy  Taylor's  Life  of  Jesus.,   Part  I.,  sec.   7. 


no       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

two  atoms  in  a  lump,  holds  earth,  and  all  the  planets,  which  in  the 
void  immense  wheel  their  course.  Whole  constellations,  too, — ^"cycle 
and  epicycle,  orb  in  orb,"  as  "with  unoffensive  pace  each  spinning 
sleeps  on  its  soft  axle," — revolve  with  complex  motion  round  a  com- 
mon center,  the  "primum  mobile"  perhaps  the  august  throne  on  which 
the  Godhead  sits.  The  analogy  is  perfect  What  attraction  is  to  mat- 
ter, binding  the  atom  to  the  mass,  the  planet  to  the  sun,  and  the  con- 
stellation to  the  throne  of  God,  that  religion  is  to  soul.  Man's  respon- 
sibility to  God  gives  capacity  for  obedience  to  human  law.  He 
moves  in  the  narrower  sphere  of  earthly  duty,  because  fastened  by  a 
higher  tie  in  a  wider  and  holier  relation.  While  the  conscience  responds 
to  the  challenges  of  Divine  Law,  the  yoke  of  authority  will  be  borne 
under  the  human.  Thus  religion  is  truly  the  girdle  which  binds  to- 
gether the  complicated  interests  of  society.  Public  worship  nourishes 
this  sentiment  precisely  in  the  form  which  is  best  suited  to  imme- 
diate application.  It  is  of  immense  service,  at  stated  seasons,  to  bring 
men  together  in  the  mass,  where  they  may  feel  a  brotherhood  of 
nature  and  of  race, — ^where  all  the  artificial  distinctions  of  wealth,  posi- 
tion, education  and  rank,  shall  for  the  moment  be  obliterated, — where 
each  shall  feel  that  "there  is  one  body  and  one  spirit,  even  as  there  is 
one  hope  of  their  calling,  one  Lord,  one  faith,  one  baptism,  one  God 
and  Father  of  all,  who  is  above  all,  and  through  all,  and  in  all."  In- 
dividual differences  are  merged,  and  individual  asperities  softened, 
when  all  look  back  upon  a  common  ruin,  look  up  to  a  common  Savior, 
look  iorward  to  a  common  goal,  rejoice  in  the  promises  of  a  com- 
mon covenant,  weep  tears  of  a  common  repentance,  and  experience  the 
joys  of  a  common  pardon.  Blot  religion  from  the  soul  of  man,  and  you 
have  destroyed  the  cohesion  of  society;  bury  the  sanctuary  in  ruin, 
and  you  have  dashed  to  pieces  the  great  magnet  of  earth,  which  draws 
all  hearts  into  sympathy  and  union. 

Still  less  can  we  overstate  the  influence  of  the  sanctuary  as  the 
educator  of  mankind.  It  is  God's  voice  which  thunders  here,  and  the 
human  soul  must  give  back  the  echo.  He  speaks  of  law,  and,  like  the 
needle  to  the  pole,  conscience  points  to  duty.  He  speaks  of  wrath, 
each  fluttering  pulse  betrays  the  fears.  He  speaks  of  love,  the  softened 
heart  gives  its  wedded  vows  to  him  who  won  it.  Under  a  judicious 
ministry,  who  can  estimate  the  slumbering  energies  aroused,  and  the 
mental  training  which  reaches  thousands  whom  scholastic  discipline 
never  touched?  I  speak  not,  of  course,  of  that  fanatical  rant,  whose 
ambitious  sport  it  is  to  lash  the  soul  into  a  tempest  of  emotion,  leaving 
only  the  foam  to  mark  its  passage.  I  speak  of  that  discreet,  well  pro- 
portioned, yet  earnest  ministry,  which  feeds  the  Church  of  God  with 
wholesome  truth, — giving  milk  to  babes,  and  strong  meat  to  men, — 
which,  not  pampering  to  a  taste  craving  always  to  be  delirious  with 
excitement,  chooses  to  pour  a  flood  of  knowledge  upon  the  human  mind. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  hi 

and  suffers  this  light  of  Heaven  to  draw  its  own  music  from  the  soul 
on  which  it  beams." 

Yet  all  these  advantages,  of  which  only  a  suggestive  hint  has  been 
given,  do  not  form  the  ground  of  public  worship.  They  fully  justify 
the  wisdom  which  ordained  it,  and  add  motives  for  its  due  and  rever- 
ent observance,  but  they  do  not  furnish  the  warrant  upon  which  its 
claims  may  legally  be  sustained. 

We  reach  a  much  higher  position  when  the  authority  and  will  of  Crod 
are  distinctly  pleaded  in  its  favor.  In  whatever  form  this  will  may  be 
revealed,  it  silences  dispute  and  rebukes  distrust  Whether  it  be  con- 
veyed through  the  appointment  of  a  weekly  Sabbath,  upon  the  lintel 
of  which  is  inscribed  the  sentence  "the  seventh  day  is  the  Sabbath  of 
rest,  an  holy  convocation,"— or,  in  the  assurance  of  extraordinary  bless- 
ings to  such  as  frequent  His  courts,  as  thus,  ''in  all  places  where  I 
record  my  name,  I  will  come  unto  thee  and  bless  thee,*'— or,  in  the  more 
explicit  command,  "forsake  not  the  assembling  of  yourselves  together, 
as  the  manner  of  some  is;"  the  will  of  God,  clearly  known,  resolves 
every  scruple  and  binds  the  conscience.  But  the  Divine  authority, 
though  recognized  as  ample  warrant  for  the  duty,  does  not  forestall 
investigation,  whether  in  man's  essential  nature,  or  in  his  religious 
relations,  any  reasonable  ground  exists  for  this  practice  of  public  wor- 
ship. It  infers  no  want  of  submission  to  God's  absolute  authority  to 
trace  the  obvious  reasons  of  his  holy  commands,  and  thus  to  inflame 
our  admiration  6f  his  wisdom  and  goodness,  by  discovering  the  suita- 
bleness of  his  laws,  both  to  our  nature  and  condition. 

There  are  three  great  principles,  from  which  the  institution  of 
stated  public  worship  would  seem  to  flow  by  necessary  deduction.  The 
first  is: 

I.  That  man,  endowed  with  a  social  nature,  cannot  attain  the  per- 
fection which  is  possible  to  him,  in  the  privacy  and  insulation  of  his  own 
being.  As  in  worship  we  have  immediate  commerce  with  the  Infinite 
One,  it  might  seem  to  be  a  matter  of  individual  concernment  merely. 
But,  however  true  it  may  be  that  religion  lies  only  between  the  man 
and  his  Maker,  in  the  sense  that  God  only  is  Lord  and  Judge  of  the 
conscience,  it  is  not  true  that  religion  contemplates  man  as  an  insulated 
being.  On  the  contrary,  it  penetrates  every  faculty  of  his  complex 
nature,  and  pervades  every  relation  in  which  he  stands.  As  the  moon's 
motion  round  the  earth  does  not  impede  the  common  and  wider 
motion  of  both  around  the  sun,  so  neither  does  the  connection  between 
God  and  the  conscience  become  less  intimate,  when  the  worshipper 
lifts  his  voice  in  the  great  congregation,  than  when  he  breathes  his 
prayer  in  the  whispers  of  the  closet  This  "bill  of  divorcement" 
which  men  draw  up  between  the  first  and  second  tables  of  the  Decalogue, 

"The  celebrated  statue  of  Memnon,  in  ancient  story,  was  said  to 
utter  melodious  sounds,  when  first  illuminated  by  the  rising  sun. 


112       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

between  their  primary  and  secondary  duties,  as  though  the  former  only 
fell  within  the  pale  of  their  religion,  is  the  charter  of  that  "filthy 
Antinomianism''  which,  in  every  age,  has  left  its  obscene  touch  upon 
the  Church  of  God.  True  religion  does  not  more  possess  man's  nature 
than  it  covers  man's  relations.  It  is  as  truly  a  part  of  religion  to  love 
our  neighbor  as  ourselves,  as  it  is  to  love  the  Lord  our  God  with  all  our 
heart, — as  much  a  part  of  religion  to  "do  justly,  and  to  love  mercy," 
as  "to  walk  humbly  with  our  God."  The  earth's  orbit  may  be  around 
the  sun,  but  the  earth's  orbit  is  also  among  the  stars.  Man's  duty  is 
to  know  and  to  obey  God,  but  not  the  less  to  serve  Him  among  men. 
True  piety  is  thus  an  invisible  essence,  which  penetrates  the  whole  char- 
acter, and  relishes  the  entire  life.  With  supreme  love  to  the  Master 
in  our  souls,  all  the  hard  labor  with  which  we  earn  our  bread  in  the 
working  forge  of  life,  all  the  unseen  acts  of  wayside  charity, — ^the 
morsel  of  bread  to  the  hungry,  the  cup  of  cold  water  to  the  thirsty, 
the  tear  of  Christian  sympathy  for  the  mourner, — all  these,  like  the 
prayers  and  the  alms  of  Cornelius,  come  up  for  a  memorial  before  God ; 
or  like  the  sweet  savour  which  the  Lord  smelled  in  the  burnt  offerings 
of  Noah.  If,  then,  religion  though  an  individual  matter  strictly,  does 
not  exclude,  but  rather,  in  its  comprehensive  definition,  embraces  all 
the  social  relations  of  man,  surely  his  worship,  which  is  but  the  ut- 
terance of  religion,  may  be  rendered  conjointly  with  others,  while  yet 
it  ascends  from  individual  souls,  sweetly  attracted  by  their  Maker's 
love,  as  the  single  flame  leaping  upwards,  and  "trembling  most  when  it 
reaches  highest,"  is  yet  composed  of  a  thousand  blended  rays  of  heat; 
or  as  the  sun's  radiance,  which  bathes  this  world  in  glory,  comprises 
myriads  of  single  beams,  each  distinct  to  the  eye  of  God,  though 
blending  into  common  light. 

But  these  remarks  do  not  touch  the  core  of  the  principle  stated  above, 
which  was,  that  man  having  social  endowments  and  affinities  cannot 
perfect  his  own  nature,  in  a  state  of  complete  seclusion.  It  is  from 
this  postulate  that  the  whole  theory  of  education  proceeds,  without 
which  it  would  have  neither  purpose  nor  method.  It  would  have  no 
purpose,  because  if  man  is  to  live  in  the  seclusion  ot  his  own  soul, 
locked  up  to  a  transcendental  intercourse  with  his  Maker,  why  not 
leave  him  to  the  impulses  received  immediately  from  God,  which  alone 
can  fit  him  for  that  secret  communion?  It  would  have  no  method, 
for  no  form  of  education  is  conceivable  which  does  not  draw  a  man  out 
from  the  solitude  of  individual  being  into  correspondence  with  objects 
external  to  himself.  Education  takes  us  out  of  these  inner  chambers, 
and  ranges  with  us  through  the  whole  domain  of  nature.  We  walk 
among  the  stars,  and  call  it  astronomy;  we  scrutinize  the  elements, 
and  call  it  science ;  we  analyze  all  the  processes  5f  thought  and  emotion, 
and  call  it  philosophy;  we  study  the  social  fabric,  with  its  scale  of 
graduated  duties,  and  (^11  it  morality;  we  combine  together  the  doc- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  113 

trines  of  Holy  Scriptures,  and  call  it  theology;  we  feel  their  influence 
upon  our  own  heart  and  conscience,  and  call  it  religion.  The  whole  is 
education,  which  leads  forth  the  anchorite  from  his  cell,  guides  him  in 
these  wide  excursions  through  all  the  provinces  of  nature  and  reason, 
and  endows  him  with  a  wealth  of  knowledge,  to  gather  which  the  whole 
universe  of  matter  and  of  mind  has  been  laid  under  tribute. 

So,  too,  man's  social  nature  lies  at  the  foundation  of  all  development 
of  his  faculties.  We  come  into  being  with  a  thousand  capacities,  physi- 
cal, intellectual  and  moral,  every  one  of  which  is  dormant,  and  requires 
to  be  developed.  The  great  law  seems  to  pervade  the  world  of  ra- 
tional existence,  that  moral  beings  shall  live  together  in  society,  and 
their  natures  be  perfected  under  mutual  action  and  reaction.  In  all 
the  universe  no  intelligent  being  is  doomed  to  a  solitary  existence,  but 
wherever  there  is  a  soul  it  cries  out  for  fellowship.  Angels  have  so- 
ciety in  joy,  and  devils  companionship  in  woe.  The  multitude  of  harp- 
ers, whom  John  saw  upon  the  sea  of  glass,  formed  the  General  As- 
sembly and  Church  of  the  First-bom  in  Heaven.  The  consecrated  mil- 
lions around  the  Lamb,  represented  by  the  four  beasts  and  the  four 
and  twenty  Elders,  in  company  with  angels,  swell  the  chorus  of 
blessing  and  honor  to  Him  upon  the  throne.  Let  it  be  uttered  in  the 
muffled  tones  of  reverential  awe,  even  the  mystery  of  the  Godhead 
teaches  the  same:  since  Jehovah,  whose  greatness  is  unsearchable,  is 
himself  infinitely  perfect  and  ineffably  blessed,  in  the  social  existence 
of  the  Trinity.  This  analogy,  therefore,  to  which  we  have  discovered 
no  exception,  in  worlds  above  or  worlds  below,  would  seem  to  teach 
that  man  on  earth  would  not  be  left  to  solitary  communion  with  his 
Maker;  but  that,  in  religion,  as  in  all  el^  beside,  the  social  element 
would  have  scope  in  the  united  worship  of  the  sanctuary.  When  the 
sinner  is  again  "renewed  after  the  image  of  Him  who  created  him," 
he  is  not  left  a  lonely  orphan,  to  shape  his  own  character  by  the  power 
of  his  own  desolate  musings;  but  he  is  brought  into  association  with 
others  of  like  precious  faith,  that  by  the  law  of  assimilation,  and  the 
power  of  mutual  support  he  may  "grow  up  to  the  measure  of  the 
stature  of  the  fulness  of  Christ."  As  a  part  of  this  heavenly  education, 
he  mingles  in  those  public  ofHces  of  religion,  which  profit  him,  not  only 
by  the  greater  promises  of  grace  annexed  to  them ;  but  profit  him  also  by 
"the  piety  of  example,  by  the  communication  of  counsels,  by  the  awful- 
ness  of  public  observation,  and  the  engagements  of  holy  custom."" 
Thus  "the  whole  body  fitly  joined  together,  and  compacted  by  that  which 
every  joint  supplieth,  according  to  the  effectual  working  in  the  measure 
of  every  part,  maketh  increase  of  the  body  unto  the  edifying  of  itself  in 
love." 

II.  But  a  second  ground,  upon  which  we  may  rest  the  institution  of 
public  worship,  is,  that  it  is  necessary  to  the  Church,  as  the  visible 

"  Jeremy  Taylor's  Life  of  Jesus,  Part  I.,  sec  7. 
8 


114       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

kingdom  of  Christ  It  would  be  superfluous  here,  to  argue  the  exis- 
tence of  a  church  visible,  as  distinguished  from  that  which  is  invisible. 
The  latter  is  the  Church  of  the  Elect,  embracing  only  the  mystical 
body  of  Christ,  who  have  "followed  him  in  the  regeneration."  It  is, 
of  course,  known  infallibly  to  God  only,  who  are  the  subjects  of  this 
kingdom ;  and  it  would  require  a  special  revelation,  in  reference  to  each, 
to  bring  it  under  human  control  and  government.  Besides  this  kingdom, 
and  to  a  great  extent  including  it,  is  another  kingdom  which  is  visible, 
and,  as  visible,  is  administered  by  men.  This  kingdom  is  the  Church 
of  God  on  earth.  To  employ  the  full  definition  of  Dr.  Mason,^*  it  is 
"the  aggregate  body  of  those  who  profess  the  true  religion,  all  making 
up  but  one  society,  of  which  the  Bible  is  the  statute-book,  Jesus  Christ 
the  head,  and  a  covenant  relation  the  uniting  bond."  Now,  what  is 
necessary  to  give  visibility  to  this  kingdom  of  Jesus  Christ?  Obviously, 
there  n\ust  be  a  covenant,  or  charter,  securing  the  privileges  of  its  sub> 
jects,  and  setting  forth  the  tenure  upon  which  these  are  held.  There 
must  be  outward  seals,  giving  legal  value  to  the  instrument,  the  use  of 
which  shall  involve  a  solemn  assumption  of  all  the  duties  which  are 
imposed.  There  must  be  laws,  regulating  the  conduct  of  such  as  de- 
sire to  be  true  and  loyal  subjects,  and  repressing  the  rebellion  and 
wickedness  of  such  as  are  traitorous  and  false.  There  must  be 
officers,  invested  with  ministerial  power,  acting  always  under  the  com- 
mission of  their  lawful  king.  There  must  be  a  court  from  which  the 
symbols  of  ro3ral  power  and  supremacy  may  be  displayed;  and  days  of 
interview,  when  the  subject  comes  into  the  presence  of  his  monarch  ta 
offer  up  his  homage,  and  to  receive  the  favors  which  royal  clemency  or 
justice  may  dispense.  From  her  first  organization  upon  earth  all  these 
visible  marks  have  been  deciphered  on  the  Church  of  God.  Sacrifices 
were  instituted,  as  the  mode  by  which  the  worshippers  might  make  an 
acceptable  approach  to  their  king,  typical  of  the  great  expiation  which 
should  be  made  by  the  one  perfect  offering  in  the  end  of  the  world. 
Priests  were  ordained  to  go  between  the  living  and  the  dead,  typical 
of  "the  only  mediator  between  God  and  man — ^the  man,  Christ  Jesus." 
The  temple  was  erected  as  the  dwelling  place  of  the  Divine  Majesty, 
from  which  all  his  oracles  should  issue.  Extraordinary  prophets  were 
commissioned  to  make  new  disclosures  of  the  Monarch's  will.  Days  of 
convocation  were  set,  when  he  would  display  his  glory  to  his  subjects, 
and  sacraments  were  given  to  seal  the  bond  between  himself  and  them. 
Great  changes  have  indeed  supervened  upon  that  economy  since  the 
advent  of  Christ,  but  not  such  as  affect  the  identity  of  the  Church,  as 
a  visible  Catholic  society  from  the.  beginning.  The  sacrifices  are  with- 
drawn, but  not  the  great  propitiatory  oblation  in  which  they  were  ful- 
filled. The  succession  of  earthly  priests  has  ceased,  only  because  the 
great  High  Priest  ever  liveth  to  intercede  above.    The  temple  hath  not 


14 


Mason's  Essays  on  the  Church,    No.  I. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  115 

one  stone  left  upon  another,  but  the  true  Shekinah  dwelleth  in  Christ, 
the  Word  made  flesh  4nd  dwelling  amongst  us.  The  long  line  of 
prophets  terminates  only  in  that  Prophet  whom  the  Lord  God  was  to 
raise  up  like  to  Moses,  and  their  treasured  messages  are  expounded 
from  the  Bible  by  living  ministers ;  while  the  seals  of  the  covenant  have 
only  changed  their  outward  forms.  Is  it  not  necessary  that  there  shall 
be  solemn  assemblies,  in  which  the  laws  of  this  kingdom  shall  be  pro- 
claimed,— when  this  visible  church,  with  its  visible  ministry,  its  visible 
sacraments,  shall  also,  through  a  visible  worship  and  visible  discipline, 
commend  itself  to  the  love  and  veneration  if  its  members?  The 
Church,  as  the  visible  kingdom  of  Jesus,  has  the  Sabbath  for  its  court- 
day,  the  sanctuary  for  the  King's  pavilion,  and  its  instituted  worship 
for  the  subject's  fealty. 

But  these  considerations  lead  to  the  third  ground,  upon  which  this 
great  institute  may  be  based: 

III.  Since,  by  means  of  the  worship  and  ordinances  of  the  sanctuary, 
this  kingdom  of  Christ  makes  its  aggressions  upon  the  surrounding  and 
opposing  powers  of  darkness.  In  strict  analogy  with  all  other  empires, 
this  kingdom  rose  from  small  beginnings.  It  was  first  set  up,  with  a 
written  constitution,  in  the  family  of  Abraham;  it  received  a  visible 
expansion  in  that  of  Jacob,  whose  twelve  sons  were  the  twelve  foun- 
dation-stones of  the  Jewish  church.  This  kingdom,  cradled  for  a 
season  in  the  fruitful  land  of  Egypt,  soon  outgrows  the  limits  of  the 
family  and  tribe,  and  comes  forth  a  nation.  In  Canaan,  hedged  around 
with  peculiar  and  restrictive  ceremonial  institutes,  it  lives  without 
further  development  till  he  came,  who  was  the  end  of  all  the  types. 
For  a  season  we  see  it  reduced  within  narrower  limits,  and  must 
search  for  it  in  the  house,  as  in  the  days  of  Abraham  and  Isaac;  but 
it  is  only  to  burst  forth  with  a  new  enlargement,  and  assume  its  proper 
attribute  of  universality.  Now  is  fulfilled  the  vision  of  Daniel,  "the 
little  stone  cut  out  without  hands  shall  smite  the  feet  of  the  great 
image,  and  then  it  becomes  a  great  mountain,  and  fills  the  whole  earth." 
From  the  moment  the  Church  entered  into  the  Christian  Dispensation, 
throwing  off  the  restrictions  by  which  it  was  swathed  in  the  Jewish, 
it  is  confessed  to  be  an  aggressive  kingdom.  To  its  sovereign  there  is 
"given  dominion  and  glory  and  a  kingdom  that  all  people,  nations  and 
languages,  should  serve  him;  his  dominion  is  an  everlasting  dominion, 
which  shall  not  pass  away,  and  his  kingdom  that  which  shall  not  be 
destroyed."  The  genius  of  the  two  Dispensations,  the  Jewish  and  the 
Christian,  is  strongly  expressed  in  the  opposite  directions  given  to  both : 
under  the  former  the  language  is,  go  up  to  Jerusalem;  under  the  latter 
the  language  is,  go  into  all  the  world.  In  the  one,  the  Church  is  sta- 
tionary; moored  to  the  Hill  of  Zion  by  peculiar  and  local  rights  placed 
in  the  center  of  earth,  as  at  that  time  known,  she  throws  her  light  over 
surrounding  nations,  and  attracts  them  to  her.     In  the  other,  all  her 


ii6       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

fastenings  cut  asunder,  she  is  sent  forth  upon  a  great  itineracy;  no 
longer  stationary,  but  aggressive,  she  goes  to  the  nations,  who  before 
were  commanded  to  come  to  her."  In  the  great  commission  of  her 
Lord,  go  ye  into  all  the  world,  and  preach  the  Gospel  to  every  creature, 
we  trace  the  genius  of  the  New  Testament  Church.  It  is  no  exag- 
geration of  pious  zeal,  when  it  is  reiterated  that  the  Qiurch  of  Jesus 
Christ  is  essentially  a  Missionary  Church,  and  her  aggressiveness  set 
forth  as  a  capital  and  distinctive  feature. 

But  not  only  is  this  kingdom  thus  aggressive;  its  encroachments  are 
made  through  a  peculiar  warfare.  Its  only  weapons  are  persuasion 
and  argument.  The  arrows  that  are  "sharp  in  the  hearts  of  the  King's 
enemies"  are  drawn  only  from  the  quiver  of  eternal  truth.  The  only 
sword  drawn  from  its  sheath  is  the  sword  of  the  spirit,  which  cutteth 
to  the  heart.  The  only  captivity  it  inflicts  is  that  which  "brings  every 
thought  into  the  obedience  of  Christ."  The  commission  under  which 
its  armies  go  forth  to  conquest,  enjoins  that  they  shall  gain  their 
victories  simply  by  teaching  all  nations,  baptizing  them  in  the  name 
of  Father,  Son  and  Holy  Spirit  And  thus  the  appropriate  symbol 
of  this  kingdom  is  that  of  the  angel  flying  in  the  midst  of  Heaven, 
having  the  everlasting  Gospel  to  preach  unto  them  that  dwell  upon 
the  earth.  Now,  because  this  kingdom  claims  to  be  thus  universal 
and  makes  its  aggressions  not  by  the  arm  of  violence,  but  by  the 
gracious  words  of  its  Lord  and  Head,  therefore  these  public  con- 
vocations are  required.  Wherever  its  subjects  may  be  scattered, 
their  oath  of  all  allegiance  binds  them  to  spread  a  tent,  and  in- 
vite the  nations  to  a  parley.  "The  great  trumpet  must  be  blown,  to 
assemble  the  outcasts  in  Egypt,  that  they  may  worship  the  Lord  in 
the  Holy  Mount."  They  must  take  up  the  song  of  the  angels  to  the 
shepherds,  and  proclaim  "the  tidings  of  great  joy  to  all  people,  that 
unto  them  a  Savior  is  born,  who  is  Christ,  the  Lord."  Whatever 
necessity  may  have  existed  in  former  ages,  for  the  public  assembly,  it 
must  be  a  prime  feature  of  the  Church  in  the  present  economy.  Without 
public  proclamation,  the  Gospel  must  be  stifled  in  its  utterance,  and 
cannot  prove  itself  the  power  of  God,  and  the  wisdom  of  God  unto 
the  salvation  of  man. 

Thus  far,  my  brethren,  we  have  discussed  the  warrant  for  public 
worship,  which  we  find  to  be  the  will  of  God  expressly  revealed  to  us, 
having  yet  a  natural  foundation  in  the  social  constitution  of  man,  per- 
taining to  the  Church  as  the  visible  kingdom  of  Christ,  and  necessary 
to  the  aggressions  which  she  is  pledged  to  make  against  the  world  of 
darkness.  It  will  be  necessary  now  to  consider  the  nature  of  this  wor- 
ship, as  deducible  from  the  text    The  woman  of  Samaria  proposes  to 


If 


See  this  contrast  beautifully  presented  in  a  Missionary  Sermon, 
one  of  the  earlier  performances  of  Dr.  Harris,  which  made  him  known 
to  the  church  at  large. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  117 

Christ  to  settle  the  dispute  so  jealously  maintained  between  her  people 
and  the  Jews,  whether  the  worship  of  God  had  been  appointed  on  the 
Hill  of  Zion,  or  on  Mt.  Gerizim,  from  which  of  old  his  blessings  had 
been  so  solemnly  pronounced.  To  this  inquiry  Christ  replied  by 
showing  its  utter  impertinence.  The  time  had  now  come  when  the 
predicted  challenge  of  Isaiah  was  to  be  both  explained  and  fulfilled: 
"Thus  saith  the  Lord,  the  Heaven  is  my  throne  and  the  earth  is  my  foot- 
stool; where  is  the  House  that  ye  build  unto  me,  and  where  is  the 
place  of  my  rest  ?  for  all  these  things  hath  my  hand  made,  and  all  these 
things  have  been,  saith  the  Lord;  but  to  this  man  will  I  look,  even  to 
him  that  is  poor  and  of  a  contrite  spirit,  and  that  trembleth  at  my  word." 
The  Dispensation  of  t3rpes  is  brought  to  a  close.  Henceforth,  "he  that 
killeth  an  ox  is  as  if  he  slew  a  man ;  he  that  sacrificeth  a  lamb,  as  if  he 
cut  off  a  dog's  neck;  he  that  offereth  an  oblation,  as  if  he  offered  swine's 
bk)od ;  he  that  burneth  incense,  as  if  he  blessed  an  idol."  Among  these 
vanishing  shadows  is  the  gorgeous  temple  on  Mount  Moriah.  Shall  he 
who  "inhabits  the  praises  of  eternity,"  who  "fills  immensity  with  his 
presence,"  be  confined  within  a  material  edifice?  Behold,  the  fram^ 
of  nature  is  his,  and  the  broad  earth  his  footstool.  God  is  a  spirit, 
infinite,  eternal,  and  unchangeable,  without  body  or  parts;  it  is  ap- 
propriate therefore,  that  he  be  universally  worshipped,  and  with  a  spirit- 
ual homage.  The  Jewish  law  was  but  a  "shadow  of  things  to  come  but 
the  body  is  of  Christ."  Since  then,  Christ,  this  body,  is  come,  God 
is  to  be  worshipped,  not  through  the  shadow,  but  in  the  substance  which 
is  Christ.  The  worship,  therefore,  which  God  now  accepts,  both  secret 
and  social,  is  a  worship  not  restricted  to  places  or  to  season;  it  is  a 
worship  not  ceremonial  and  typical,  but  spiritual  and  internal,  the  sub- 
stance and  body  of  which  is  the  truth  itself,-^the  truth  known  and  felt 
in  its  power, — ^the  truth  as  it  is  in  Jesus. 

There  is  obviously  the  distinction  between  what  is  natural  and  what  is 
ceremonial  in  public  worship:  The  former  having  a  ground  in  nature, 
so  that  reason  itself  would  enforce  it  upon  the  conscience, — ^the  latter 
deriving  its  entire  claim  from  the  express  appointment  of  God.  In  the 
first  class  will  fall  such  acts  as  prayer,  and  praise,  and  the  study  of  the 
Word,  which,  having  their  ground  in  reason  itself,  never  can  become 
obsolete  with  changing  dispensations.  In  the  second  class  will  range 
such  symbolical  rites  as  Circumcision  or  Baptism,  the  Passover  or  the 
Eucharist.  For  though  these  symbols  may  illustrate  vital  and  holy 
truths,  yet  the  will  of  God  alone  can  make  one  symbol  more  obligatory 
than  another,  or  indeed  bind  us  to  a  symbolical  worship  at  all.  The 
Jewish  Dispensation  was  marked  by  the  predominance  of  the  ceremonial 
over  the  natural  parts  in  public  worship.  The  courses  of  the  priests, 
the  splendor  of  their  vestments,  the  variety  and  number  of  the  sacrifices, 
the  magnificence  of  the  temple,  the  oblations  and  incense, — all  gave 
denomination  to  Judaism,  as  a  system  of  types  and  emblems.     But 


ii8       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

under  the  Christian  economy,  the  natural  parts  of  worship,  those  hav- 
ing an  evident  foundation  in  reason  and  propriety,  and  not  possessing 
authority  from  positive  institution  alone, — these  are  brought  into  bolder 
relief  from  the  suppression  or  withdrawal  of  the  symbolical. 

This  seems  to  be  intimated  in  the  contrast  drawn  by  our  Savior, 
between  the  typical  and  the  spiritual,  in  the  text:  "The  hour  cometh, 
when  neither  in  this  mountain,  nor  yet  in  Jerusalem,  shall  ye  worship 
the  Father;  but  the  true  worshippers  shall  worship  the  Father  in  spirit 
and  in  truth."  Here  to  worship  in  the  spirit  is  antithetical  to  worship 
ping  in  Jerusalem,  which  cannot  be  explained,  unless  these  terms  are 
the  synonyms  of  a  symbolical  and  a  spiritual  worship. 

This  language  suggests,  too,  a  certain  connection  between  the 
devotions  and  the  instructions  of  the  sanctuary.  For  though  the  term 
truth  in  the  phrase,  "in  spirit  and  in  truth,"  does  not  primarily  refer  to 
any  dogmatic  statements,  yet  referring  to  Christ  as  the  substance  of  the 
shadowy  economy  of  the  temple,  it  doubtless  implies  full  instruction 
in  all  that  relates  to  His  person  and  work.  Permit  me  to  dwell  with 
^a  little  minuteness  upon  what  may  be  termed  the  Protestant  view  of 
public  worship,  touching  the  stress  which  is  to  be  laid  upon  the  office 
of  instruction  in  the  sanctuary.  There  are  three  lines  of  thought  which 
conduct  to  the  inference  that  formal  exposition  of  truth  is  a  necessary 
service  in  the  Christian  Church.    It  follows : 

I.  From  the  complete  withdrawal  of  the  ancient  types.  It  is,  I  con- 
ceive, a  low  and  narrow  view  to  take  of  these,  that  they  were  designed 
as  artistic  representations,  to  captivate  the  senses  and  delight  the 
imagination.  If  no  inspired  interpretation  of  them  had  been  afforded, 
drawing  out  stores  of  spiritual  meaning,  it  would  be  more  pardonable 
to  speak  of  them  as  giving  a  scenic  effect,  as  it  were,  dramatizing  the 
worship  of  God,  enlisting  the  sentiment,  and  drawing  forth  the  poetry 
that  lurks  far  down  in  the  nature  of  every  man.  The  Epistle  to  the 
Hebrews  is  sufficient  to  overthrow  this  frigid  hypothesis.  The  Apostle 
undertakes  to  unfold  the  priesthood  of  Christ,  and  he  does  this  by  sim- 
ply expounding  the  import  of  the  tabernacle  and  its  furniture,  the 
priesthood  in  its  courses,  the  sacrifices  and  purgations  of  the  old  law. 
We  are  therefore  to  regard  these  types  as  being  really  an  exhibition 
of  spiritual  truths  to  the  Jewish  mind, — ^a  sacred  hieroglyph,  curious 
enough  to  provoke  inquiry,  yet  plain  enough  to  be  resolved  upon  in- 
vestigation. They  were  indeed  a  language,  peculiar  in  construction  yet 
pregnant  with  meaning,  if  the  key  were  only  given  to  unlock  the 
cypher.  It  does  not  concern  me  now  to  vent  an  opinion  how  far  this 
language  was  actually  interpreted, — whether  the  pious  Jew  was  per- 
mitted to  read  the  high  import  of  these  mysterious  symbols,  or  whether, 
like  prophecy,  which  is  a  cypher  of  another  kind,  the  key  is  reserved 
till  the  day  of  fulfilment.  Should  I  hazard  a  conjecture  upon  this 
collateral  point,  it  would  be  that  types  and  prophecies  both  were,  in 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  119 

their  broad  outline,  sufficiently  understood,  at  least  by  the  spiritually 
enlightened, — ^while  yet  the  details  of  both  were  shut  up  in  mystery, 
and  all  questions  as  to  the  mode  and  time  of  fulfilment  lost  them- 
selves in  the  uncertainties  of  conjecture.  If,  then,  these  types  were  a 
species  of  language,  speaking  to  the  eye,  and  reaching  the  reason 
through  the  imagination, — ^if  the  temple,  with  its  august  ceremonies, 
was  but  a  ssrmbolical  painting,  somewhat  like  the  sculptured  panels  and 
painted  walls  recently  disinterred  from  the  ruins  of  Nineveh, — then  they 
cannot  be  withdrawn  from  a  dispensation  claiming  to  be  more  per- 
fect, without  the  substitution  of  a  better  form  of  instruction.  What 
this  form  shall  be,  is  most  easily  and  reasonably  determined.  In 
Judaism,  Christ  was  to  come;  his  advent  was  future:  In  Christianity, 
Christ  has  come;  the  event  is  past  In  the  one  case,  the  representation 
of  what  is  future  cannot  but  be  S3rmbolic;  in  the  other,  the  representa- 
tion of  what  is  past  cannot  but  be  historic  In  the  New  Testament 
Church,  therefore,  the  instruction  must  consist  of  plain  statements  of 
actual  facts — ^the  facts  of  Christ's  life,  and  the  facts  of  his  death — and 
of  didactic  expositions  of  duty  founded  upon  these  facts.  The  change 
which  has  taken  place  is  just  what  we  would  antecedently  expect  from 
the  chronology  of  the  two  economies.  When  Christ's  advent  was  future, 
it  was  foreshadowed  by  types  and  emblems.  When  Christ  did  come  these 
types  were  cancelled,  and  he  is  now  held  forth  in  the  sanctuary  as  a 
fact,  a  substance  and  a  body;  and  the  instructions  which  are  given  are 
instructions  concerning  a  fact;  they  are  plain,  literal,  historic  and 
didactic 

II.  The  same  conclusion  as  to  the  necessity  of  formal  instruction 
in  the  sanctuary  follows,  from  the  connection  of  preaching,  with  the 
Undl  spread  of  Christianity,  "There  were  great  voices  in  heaven,  say- 
ing :  the  kingdoms  of  this  world  are  become  the  kingdoms  of  our  Lord, 
and  of  his  Christ,  and  he  shall  reign  forever  and  ever."  This  is  the 
paean  with  which  prophecy  celebrates  the  close  of  this  latter  age  of  the 
Church.  But  how  is  this  unearthly  kingdom  to  penetrate  all  earthly 
kingdoms,  and  include  them?  Go  preach  my  Gospel,  saith  the  Lord, 
for  it  is  by  the  foolishness  of  preaching  he  will  save  them  that 
believe,  and  "the  foolishness  of  God  is  wiser  than  men."  But  who 
shall  preach?  Even  they  that  are  sent.  And  where  shall  they  preach? 
What  ye  have  heard  in  the  ear,  says  Christ,  proclaim  ye  upon  the 
housetops.  If  what  has  before  been  said,  respecting  the  aggressiveness 
of  Christianity  be  true,  and,  if  this  universal  extension  is  to  be  achieved 
by  the  simple  proclamation  of  Gospel  truths,  then  the  importance 
of  the  pulpit  cannot  be  overlooked;  and  among  the  appointments  of 
the  sanctuary  the  expositions  of  Bible  truth  must  be  prominent. 

III.  But  the  necessity  of  instruction  in  the  House  of  God  will  ap- 
pear further  from  the  relation  of  knowledge  to  worship.  I  am  free  to 
iadmit  that  the  main  design  of  these  public  assemblies  is  devotion;  yet 


I20       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

it  cannot  be  a  blind  and  senseless  devotion  of  the  body,  without  the 
soul.  "God  is  a  spirit/' — and  how  can  he  be  pleased  with  what  is 
corporeal  ?  If,  for  the  purpose  of  instructing  men  in  the  higher  myster- 
ies of  redemption,  atonement  and  pardon,  he  for  a  season  enjoined 
bloody  sacrifices,  it  was  not  because  he  delighted  either  in  the  fat  of 
rams  or  in  the  blood  of  bulls.  When  he  made  man  in  his  own  image  he 
gave  him  a  thinking  soul,  and  endowed  that  soul  with  knowledge  and 
holiness,  and  the  sacrifices  acceptable  to  him  are  those  of  a  broken 
and  contrite  spirit.  *'To  love  him  with  all  the  heart,  and  with  all  the 
understanding,  and  with  all  the  soul,  and  with  all  the  strength,  and  to 
love  his  neighbor  as  himself,  is  more  than  all  whole  burnt  offerings 
and  sacrifices."  But  how  can  this  devotion  be  spiritual  without  the 
truth?  To  worship  God  as  a  spirit,  and  with  the  spirit,  there  must  be 
knowledge  of  God,  who  He  is — "infinite,  eternal  and  unchangeable,  in 
His  being,  wisdom,  power,  justice,  goodness,  holiness  and  truth" — there 
must  be  knowledge  of  God  in  His  relations  to  us,  as  our  Creator,  Ruler 
and  Redeemer — there  must  be  knowledge  of  His  law,  setting  forth  His 
claims  upon  our  love  and  service — and  there  must  be  knowledge  of 
the  way  of  approach  and  communion  with  Him,  as  it  is  graphically 
summed  up  by  Dr.  Owen."  "This  is  the  general  order  of  Gospel  wor- 
ship, the  great  rubnic  of  our  service.  Here,  in  general,  lieth  its  de- 
cency, that  it  respects  the  mediation  of  the  Son,  through  whom  we 
have  access,  and  the  supplies  and  assistance  of  the  Spirit,  and  a  regard 
unto  God  as  a  Father.  He  that  fails  in  any  one  of  these  breaks  all 
order  in  Gospel  worship.  This  is  the  great  canon,  which,  if  it  be 
neglected,  there  is  no  decency  in  whatever  else  is  done  in  this  way." 
How,  then,  can  there  be  true  worship  without  instruction?  For  these 
things  are  known  only  as  God  has  revealed  them  and  He  has  written 
them  in  a  book.  Instruction,  therefore,  is  needed  in  the  sanctuary,  to 
afford  the  materials  for  devotion;  for  the  knowledge  of  God  and  His 
love  supplies  the  theme  of  our  song. 

It  strikingly  illustrates,  too,  the  wisdom  of  the  Divine  arrangements, 
that  in  the  sanctuary  instruction  and  devotion  are  so  inseparably  coupled 
and  the  former  always  in  subordination  to  the  latter.  If  Christianity 
were  taught  only  in  the  portico  and  lyceum,  it  is  hard  to  see  how  it 
should  be  kept  from  sliding  into  a  sublime  philosophy.  But  taught  in 
the  sanctuary  after  offices  of  prayer  and  praise,  and  taught  as  a  means 
to  these,  it  is  retained  in  the  heart  as  religion.  The  devotions  of  the 
sanctuary  exercise  a  secret,  but  not  the  less  powerful,  check  uiH>n 
that  spirit  of  unlicensed  speculation,  which,  in  reference  to  the  deity, 
is  always  profane ;  while  again,  these  instructions  react  powerfully  upon 
the  devotion  of  the  worshipper,  to  enliven  and  support  it.  They  supply 
oxygen  to  the  flame,  so  that  the  vestal  fire  bums  without  extinction 
upon  the  altar  within. 


10 


Sermon  on  Nature  and  Beauty  of  Gospel  Worship. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  121 

It  is  somewhat  a  nice  point  to  adjust  the  instructions  and  the 
devotions  of  the  sanctuary  so  that  they  shall  be  mingled  in  due  propor- 
tion. Ritualism,  on  the  one  hand/  so  multiplies  the  offices  of  prayer 
and  thanksgiving  as  to  thrust  aside  the  exposition  of  doctrine.  Ration- 
alism, on  the  other  hand,  spins  out  discourse  till  the  spirit  of  devotion 
is  smothered  under  the  weight  of  human  speculations.  Romanists,  for 
example,  as  types  of  the  first,  substituting  the  Church  for  Christ,  and 
cutting  off  all  access  to  God  save  through  the  priesthood,  have  no  oc- 
casion to  bring  divine  truth  upon  the  conscience  and  heart,  and  the 
sermon  is  ignored.  Protestants,  on  the  contrary,  who  maintain  the  in- 
dividual responsibility  of  men  to  God,  and  cannot  propose  to  be  proxies 
for  others  in  this  concern,  rest  upon  the  truth,  as  the  great  medium  of 
spiritual  communion  with  God.  In  proportion,  therefore,  as  the  Prot- 
estant spirit  prevails,  is  attention  given  to  the  preaching  of  the  Word. 
The  exact  measures  of  the  two  may  not  be  determined  alike  by  all. 
But  the  very  genius  of  Christianity  requires  that  copious  instruction 
shall  be  given — ^that  this  instruction  shall  hinge  upon  the  vital  truths 
concerning  the  grace  of  the  Gospel — ^that  it  shall  be  conveyed,  not  in 
a  dry  and  scholastic  form,  but  in  that  practical  and  experimental  form 
which  shall  glide  most  easily  into  the  frames  of  devotion. 

I  cannot  forbear,  even  at  the  hazard  of  wearying  you,  from  touching 
upon  another  feature  of  Christian  worship,  clearly  implied  in  the  con- 
trasted expressions  of  the  text,  viz:  its  pre-eminent  simplicity.  When 
Christ  says,  "the  true  worshippers  shall  worship  the  Father,  not  in 
Jerusalem,  but  in  spirit,"  the  antithesis  lies  not  in  the  language,  but  in 
the  sentiment  He  does  not  mean  to  say  that  spiritual  worship  could 
not  be  rendered  at  Jerusalem  as  elsewhere.  Jerusalem  is  here  only 
another  name  for  Judaism,^^  the  ''Jerusalem  which  is  in  bondage  with 
her  children;"  and  to  worship  in  Jerusalem  is  only  the  formula  for  a 
ceremonial  and  symbolical  service.  Here,  then,  are  two  facts:  First, 
that  the  only  instance  in  which  God  has  enjoined  a  splendid  and  im- 
posing ritual  upon  the  Church  was  under  a  dispensation  clearly 
t3rpical,  when  the  truth  was  taught  by  emblems;  and  Second,  that  this 
picturesque  and  ceremonial  service  has  been  unquestionably  withdrawn, 
being  supplanted  by  another  that  is  spritual  and  simple.  As  regards 
the  splendor  of  that  ancient  service,  the  following  language  was  uttered 
by  one  of  the  great  divines  of  the  seventeenth  century :  "  "Mosaical  wor- 
ship, as  celebrated  in  Solomon's  temple,  outdid  all  the  glory  and  splen- 
dor that  ever  the  world,  in  any  place,  in  any  age,  from  the  foundation 
of  it,  ever  enjoyed.  How  glorious  was  it,  when  the  house  of  Solomon 
stood  in  its  greatest  order  and  beauty,  all  overlaid  with  gold,  thousands 
of  priests  and  Levites  ministering  in  their  orders,  with  all  the  most 
solemn  musical  instruments  that  David  found  out,  and  the  great  con- 

" Brown,  on  Galatians,  p.  235.  "Dr.  Owens'  Discourse  on  the  Na- 
ture and  Beauty  of  Gospel  Worship. 


122       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

gregation  assembled,  of  hundreds  of  thousands,  all  singing  praises  to 
God !  Let  any  man  in  his  thoughts  a  little  compare  the  greatest,  most 
solemn,  pompous  and  costly  worship  that  any  of  the  sons  of  men  have 
in  these  latter  days  invented  and  brought  into  the  Christian  Church, 
with  this  of  the  Judaical ;  take  the  Cathedral  of  Peter,  in  Rome,  bring 
in  the  Pope  and  all  his  cardinals  in  all  their  vestments,  habiliments  and 
ornaments,  fill  their  choir  with  the  best  singers  they  can  get,  set  out 
and  adorn  their  images  and  pictures  to  the  utmost  that  their  treasures 
and  superstitions  will  reach  to,  then  compare  it  with  Solomon's  Tem- 
ple and  the  worship  thereof,  and  he  shall  quickly  find  that  it  holds  no 
proportion  with  it,  that  it  is  all  a  toy,  a  thing  of  naught  in  comparison 
of  it"  Yet  this  splendid,  pompous  and  costly  ritual  has  been  cancelled 
by  the  same  authority  which  ordained  it"  After  all,  it  was  but  a  veil 
which  Moses  put  over  his  face  which  the  spirit  of  the  Lord  hath  taken 
away,  that  "we  all,  with  open  face,  beholding  as  in  a  glass  the  glor}'  of 
the  Lord,  may  be  changed  into  the  same  image  from  glory  to  glory." 
These  were  but  the  elements  of  the  world,"  under  "the  bondage"  of 
which  the  children  of  God  were,  "until  the  time  appointed  of  the 
Father."  The  glory  of  this  economy  is  that  it  is  "the  ministration  of 
the  Spirit";  who  being  present,  as  "the  anointing  which  teacheth  the 
believer,  and  is  truth  and  is  no  lie,"  has  forever  destroyed  that  dim, 
ceremonial  service,  which,  like  the  shadows  of  a  magic  lantern,  was 
only  "a  figure  of  the  true."  To  introduce,  therefore,  pomps  and  rites 
into  Christian  worship  with  a  view  to  make  it  impressive  and  gorgeous, 
is  to  Judaize  it.**  If  the  intention  be  only  to  give  splendor  and  dignity 
to  the  service;  by  rights  which  have  no  emblematic  signification,  then  it 
is  "a  show  of  wisdom  in  will-worship."  The  whole  is  thereby  rendered 
impertinent  and  trifling,  since  the  Church  never  had,  even  in  the 
days  of  ceremonial  observance,  a  ritual  that  was  void  of  significance. 

"  "The  divine  command  is  the  only  basis  of  religious  duty ;  and  will- 
worship  of  every  description  has  uniformly  drawn  down  the  expression 
of  the  Divine  displeasure.  With  regard  to  whatsoever  partakes  of  the 
essential  nature  of  worship,  it  may  safely  be  affirmed  that  what  is  not 
commanded  is  virtually  forbidden.  This  constitutes  the  broad  line  of 
distinction  between  the  worship  of  faith  and  the  offerings  of  supersti- 
tion; the  former  alone  partakes  of  the  character  of  obedience,  being 
founded  upon  the  knowledge  and  recognition  of  the  Divine  will. 
Whatsoever  is  not  of  faith,  whatsoever  has  not  the  Divine  command 
as  its  basis,  is  not  obedience,  but  sin." — Conder,  on  Protestant  Non- 
conformity, p.  165. 

""Idolatry  has  reference  either  to  the  object  or  to  the  mode  of  re- 
ligious worship.  .  .  .  But  idolatrous  corruptions  of  the  mode  of 
worship  are  not  less  at  variance  with  the  religious  principle.  'The 
descent  of  the  human  mind,  from  the  spirit  to  the  letter,  from  what  is 
vital  and  intellectual  to  what  is  ritual  and  external  in  religion  is,'  re- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  123 

The  argument  is  complete  either  way.  If  the  ritual  be  emblematic  of 
truth,  then  we  have  gone  back  to  Judaism,  reconstructing  in  part  at 
least,  a  system  that  by  God's  will  has  ''decayed  and  vanished  away;" 
if  it  be  only  sensuous  and  imaginative,  then  the  arrogance  is  insuffer- 
able, which  offers  to  guard  what  is  confessedly  unmeaning,  to  amuse,  as 
it  were,  his  heavy  hours  with  the  gauds  and  mimicking  shows  the  chil- 
dren love. 

If  this  congregation  has  erected  a  building  more  grand  and  beauti- 
ful in  architectural  design  than  that  which  to-day  we  have  left,  it  has 
been  done  only  in  the  exercise  of  a  lawful  taste  about  a  matter  in  itself 
morally  indifferent.  But  I  would  prefer  to  see  it  razed  to  the  earth, 
and  its  foundation  stones  be  uncovered,  than  it  should  be  supposed  to 
lend  a  sanction  to  that  stupid  jargon  of  a  so-called  ecclesiastical 
architecture,  whose  ghostly  mutterings  have  of  late,  through  some 
Witch  of  Endor,  been  pouring  in  upon  us  from  the  dark  ages.  Be  it 
known  unto  all  men  that  here  is  none  of  "that  beauty  and  glory  which 
carving,  and  paintings,  and  embroidered  vestures,  and  musical  incan- 
tations, and  postures  of  veneration,  do  give  unto  divine  service."" 
No  pealing  organ,  "through  long-drawn  aisle,  and  fretted  vault," 
here  "swells  the  note  of  praise."  No  "dim  religious  light"  streams  here, 
through  storied  panes,  to  cheat  us  with  its  likeness  to  the  twilight 
hour.  Here  have  we  no  wooden  cross,  no  altar,  no  human  priest,  no 
emblematic  furniture,  "no  ceremonies,  vestments,  gestures,  ornaments, 
music,  altars,  images,  paintings,  with  prescriptions  of  great  bodily  ven- 
eration." 22  "We  know  but  one  sacrifice,  that  which  was  offered  up  once 
for  all, — ^the  Lamb  of  God,  slain  from  the  foundation  pf  the  world. 
We  know  of  but  one  Priest,  who  with  his  own  blood  has  entered 
through  the  veil  into  the  Holiest,  having  obtained  eternal  redemption 
for  us.  We  know  but  one  temple  on  earth,  that  which  is  made  such 
by  the  indwelling  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  the  saints  of  the  most  high  God. 
We  know  but  one  gospel,  to  wit :  "that  God  is  in  Christ  reconciling  the 
world  unto  himself,  not  imputing  unto  them  their  trespasses ;"  and  with 

marks  an  eloquent  writer,  'the  true  source  of  idolatry  and  superstition 
in  all  the  multifarious  forms  which  they  have  assumed'  Whatsoever 
tends  to  compromise  the  spiritual  for  the  sensible,  whatsoever  transfers 
the  attention  of  the  mind  from  invisible  realities  to  material  forms, 
directly  opposes  the  spirit  and  tendency  of  Christianity.  All  attempts, 
therefore,  to  conciliate  the  homage  of  the  irreligious  to  Christianity  by 
an  accommodation  of  its  principles,  its  rights  or  its  practical  requisi- 
tions to  the  imagination  and  taste  of  worldly  men,  in  whatsoever  mo^ 
lives  they  may  originate,  must  be  stigmatized  as  frustrating  the  primary 
design  of  the  Gospel  and  as  partaking  of  the  nature  of  idolatrous  cor- 
ruption of  religion." — Conder,  on  Protestant  Non-conformity,  pp.  20,  21. 
'^  Dr.  Owens'  Discourse,  The  Chamber  of  Imagery,      2*  Ibid, 


124       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Paul  we  say,  if  an  angel  from  heaven  preach  any  other  gospel  unto  us 
than  that  we  have  received,  let  him  be  accursed  As  for  this  building, 
my  brethren,  beautiful  as  it  may  be  in  our  eyes,  let  it  please  us  to  call 
it  only  a  plain  Presbyterian  meeting  house.  The  glory  we  see  in  it, 
let  it  not  be  the  glory  of  its  arches  and  its  timbers, — not  the  glory  of 
its  lofty  and  graceful  spire,  pointing  ever  upwards  to  that  home  the 
pious  shall  find  in  the  bosom  of  God;  not  the  glory  of  this  chaste 
pulpit,  with  its  delicate  tracery,  and  marble  whiteness,  not  the  glory 
found  in  the  eloquence  or  learning  of  those  who,  through  generations, 
shall  here  proclaim  the  gospel, — ^nor  yet  the  glory  traced  in  the  wealth 
and  fashion,  refinement  and  social  position  of  those  who  throng  its 
courts.  But  let  its  glory  be  "the  glory  of  the  Lord  risen  upon  it!" 
Let  its  glory  be  the  promises  of  the  covenant  engraved  upon  its  walls, 
which  are  yea  and  amen  in  Christ  Jesus.  Let  its  glory  be  found  in  the 
purity,  soundness  and  unction,  of  its  pastors, — in  the  fidelity  and  watch- 
fulness of  its  elders, — ^in  the  piety  and  godliness  of  its  members.  Let 
its  glory  be  as  a  birth-place  of  souls,  where  shall  always  be  heard  the 
sobs  of  awakened  penitence,  and  the  songs  of  new-born  love.  Let  its 
glory  be  the  spirituality  of  its  worship,  its  fervent  prayers,  its  adoring 
praise,  and  the  simplicity  and  truth  of  its  ordinances  and  sacraments. 
Let  its  glory  be  the  communion  of  saints,  who  here  have  fellowship 
one  with  another,  and  also  with  the  Father,  and  his  Son  Jesus  Christ 
Let  its  glory  be  as  the  resting-place  of  weary  pilgrims,  toiling  on 
toward  the  heavenly  city — ^the  emblem  of  that  Church  above — 

"Where  congregations   ne'er  break  up, 
And  Sabbaths  never  end." 

AND  NOW,  "to  the  ONLY  WISE  GOD,  THE  KING,  ETERNAL,  IMMORTAL  AND 
invisible/' — ^TO  GOD,  "GLORIOUS  IN  HOLINESS,  FEARFUL  IN  PRAISES,  DOING 
WONDERS," — ^TO  GOD  WHO  "iS  A  SPIRIT,  INFINITE,  ETERNAL  AND  UNCHANGE- 
ABLE, IN  HIS  BEING,  WISDOM,  POWER,  JUSTICE,  GOODNESS,  HOLINESS  AND 
TRUTH,"— TO  GOD,  THE  FATHER  ALMIGHTY,  THE  MAKER  OF  HEAVEN  AND 
EARTH, — ^TO  GOD  THE  SON,  THE  BRIGHTNESS  OF  THE  FATHER'S  GLORY,  AND 
EXPRESS  IMAGE  OF  HIS  PERSON, — TO  GOD  THE  HOLY  GHOST,  PROCEEDING 
FROM  THE  FATHER  AND  THE  SON, — ^TO  THE  SERVICE  AND  GLORY  OF  THE 
ADORABLE  AND   INCOMPREHENSIBLE  TRINITY,  WE   SOLEMNLY  DEDICATE  THIS 

BUILDING,  WITH  ALL  THAT  APPERTAINS  TO  IT.  "Lift  Up  your  heads,  O,  ye 
gates,  and  be  ye  lifted  up,  ye  everlasting  doors,  and  the  King  of  glory 
shall  come  in.  Who  is  this  King  of  glory?  The  Lord,  strong  and 
mighty,  the  Lord  mighty  in  battle.  Lift  up  your  head,  O,  ye  gates; 
even  lift  them  up,  ye  everlasting  doors,  and  the  King  of  glory  shall  come 
in.  Who  is  this  King  of  glory?  The  Lord  of  Hosts, — he  is  the  King 
of  glory."  " 

"These  concluding  sentences  formed  the  closing  prayer  of  the  con- 
gregation, though  incorporated  here  with  the  Discourse. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  125 

"And  now,  O,  Lord  God  of  Israel,  which  keepest  covenant,  and  show- 
est  mercy  unto  thy  servants  that  walk  before  thee  with  all  their  hearts ! 
Behold  the  heaven,  and  the  Heaven  of  heavens  cannot  contain  thee; 
how  much  less  this  house  which  we  have  built  I  Have  respect,  therefore, 
to  the  prayers  and  supplications  of  thy  servants ;  let  thine  eyes  be  open, 
and  let  thine  ears  be  attent  unto  the  prayer  that  is  made  in  this  place ! 
Here  choose  Zion,  and  desire  it  for  an  habitation.  Here  abundantly 
bless  her  provision,  and  satisfy  her  poor  with  bread!  Arise,  O,  Lord 
God,  unto  thy  resting-place, — ^thou,  and  the  ark  of  thy  strength;  let 
thy  priests,  O,  Lord  God,  be  clothed  with  salvation,  and  let  thy  saints 
shout  aloud  for  joy.  Let  these  walls  be  called  salvation  and  these  gates 
praise." 

Mr.  Palmer  exercised  the  greatest  care  in  the  reception  of 
persons  into  the  Church.  His  session  demanded  of  candidates 
for  Church  membership,  evidence  of  a  real  change  of  heart, 
and  Godliness  of  life.  He  and  his  session  were  honest,  earnest, 
and  thoroughgoing  in  the  application  of  discipline.  Hence  the 
apparent  growth  of  the  Church  was  not  rapid.  Nevertheless, 
when  he  resigned  the  Columbia  Church,  in  1855,  he  left  it 
ninety  per  cent  stronger  numerically  than  when  he  took  it, 
and  still  further  advanced  as  an  efficient  working  organization. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

THE  PASTOR  AT  COLUMBIA,  S.  C^Continued. 
(January,  1843— October,  1855.) 

Served  the  Church  at  Large,  by  Helping  to  Found  and  Conduct  the 
Southern  Presbyterian  Review. — By  the  Use  of  His  Pen. — 
Came  into  Great  Demand  for  Occasional  Addresses. — Rendered 
TO  Columbia  Seminary  Varied  and  Valuable  Service. — Made 
his  Home  Life  Contributory  to  his  Influence  for  Good:  Open 
TO  Young  People  whom  He  could  Help,  e.  g.,  to  H.  R.  Reid, 
Basile  Edward  Lanneau,  et  ai — The  Adviser  and  Comforter 
of  many  of  his  brethren  on  occasion. — ^entertained  at  his 
Home  many  Gentlemen  whom  He  there  Bettered. — Calls  to 
Important  Posts  on  Every  Side. — Suffered  Himself  to  be  Made 
Professor  of  Ecclesiastical  History  in  Columbia  Seminary. — 
Mrs.  Palmer's  Prediction  at  the  Time  of  his  Transfer. — Degree 
OF  D.D.  Conferred  upon  Him  in  1852. 

BETWEEN  1845  ^"d  1847,  the  desire  to  have  an  organ  for 
the  thorough,  scholarly  and  unmuzzled  discussion  of  theo- 
logical and  ecclesiastical  themes  became  strong  in  Columbia. 
There  were  giants  there,  in  those  days.  They  had  messages 
from  the  Lord  to  their  brethren,  which  they  burned  to  deliver ; 
and  they  liked  not  Princeton's  disposition  to  put  a  gag  into 
their  mouths.  Accordingly  an  association  of  ministers,  in  the 
town  of  Columbia,  established  that  very  able  periodical,  The 
Southern  Presbyterian  Review;  the  first  issue  of  which  bears 
the  date,  June,  1847.  This  association  conducted  the  Review 
for  about  a  score  of  years,  when  the  governing  body  was  reor- 
ganized on  a  wider  geographical  basis  and  continued  the  publi- 
cation of  the  periodical  down  to  1885.  It  was  succeeded  by  the 
Southern  Presbyterian  Quarterly,  which  began  to  appear  July, 
1887. 

The  first  editors  of  the  Southern  Presbyterian  Review  were 
James  Henley  Thornwell,  George  Howe,  and  Benjamin  M. 
Palmer.  There  is  no  reason  to  doubt  that  Mr.  Palmer  gave 
himself  to  his  editorial  work  with  method,  energy  and  persist- 
ence. He  thought  it  no  great  thing  to  work  fifteen  hours  out  of 
twenty-four  in  this  period,  and  perhaps  averaged  ten  hours 
work  a  day  in  his  study  during  his  Columbia  pastorate.    There 


\ 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  127 

have  come  down,  amongst  his  loose  papers,  lists  of  subjects 
carefully  framed  by  his  hand,  on  which  he,  as  editor,  wished 
to  have  articles  from  contributors.  This  suggests  that  he 
conducted  a  share  of  the  correspondence,  and  probably  super- 
vised such  articles  as  he  secured,  as  they  were  going  through 
the  press.  An  examination  of  the  pages  of  the  Review  discloses 
the  fact  that  he  contributed,  between  June,  1847,  ^"^  ^^  ®^^ 
of  his  Columbia  pastorate  articles  enough  to  make  an  octavo 
volume  of  three  hundred  pages.  An  examination  of  the  articles 
gives  a  new  insight  into  the  character,  attainments,  and  prowess 
of  the  man. 

In  the  first  issue,  our  young  pastor,  not  yet  thirty  years  old, 
appears  with  an  article  entitled,  "The  Relation  between  the 
Work  of  Christ  and  the  Condition  of  the  Angelic  World."  His 
contention  is  thus  set  forth  by  himself : 

"We  are  persuaded  that  the  scheme  of  grace  revealed  in  the  Bible 
should  be  regarded  from  a  far  higher  point  of  view  than  this  low  earth 
on  which  we  dwell ;  that  its  relations  are  more  vast  and  extensive  than 
is  supposed  by  those  who  would  confine  it  to  any  one  district,  class, 
or  order  of  beings.  Taking,  indeed,  the  narrowest  view  of  it,  it  is 
sublime  beyond  all  human  conception.  The  redemption  of  a  single 
soul  from  death,  its  deliverance  from  the  bondage  of  sin  and  the 
power  of  Satan,  its  entire  sanctification,  and  its  introduction  into 
heaven,  are  all  events  of  the  most  startling  and  impressive  kind.  The 
passage  of  even  one  redeemed  saint  from  the  deep  pit  and  miry  clay 
of  sin  to  a  throne  with  Christ  in  his  glory,  unfolds  a  history  which 
might  command  a  listening  senate  Of  angels.  But,  if  with  John,  we 
could  behold,  in  Apocalyptic  vision,  the  one  hundred  and  forty  and  four 
thousand,  standing  with  the  Lamb  on  Mount  Zion,  having  his  Fath- 
er's name  in  their  foreheads,  their  voice  asi  the  voice  of  many  waters, 
and  their  song  that  of  harpers,  harping  with  their  harps :  in  view  of  the 
immense  number,  each  seemingly  equally  a  monument  to  the  mystery 
of  grace,  we  should  confess  this  is  a  great  salvation,  this  salvation  by 
the  blood  of  Christ.  Yet,  this  is  but  a  standing  point,  from  which  to 
spring  to  a  higher  and  more  commanding  view.  We  have  only  to 
look  upon  the  different  orders  of  worshippers  in  the  heavenly  temple 
and  witness  the  whole  hierarchy  bending  before  the  throne  of  the 
Lamb,  to  be  overwhelmed  with  the  mystery  of  divine  grace.  It  is  not 
difficult  to  say  why  'the  spirits  of  just  men  made  perfect*  should  cry 
day  and  night.  Thou  are  worthy,  for  thou  hast  redeemed  us  by  thy 
blood;'  but  whence  came  these, — ^this  innumerable  company  of  angels — 
these  'flames  of  fire' — who  catch  from  the  redeemed  sinner  the  keynote 
of  praise,  and  swell  the  chorus,  'worthy  is  the  Lamb  that  was  slain'  ? 

"The  answer  to  this  question  brings  us  to  the  grave,  yet  delightful 


128       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

theme,  which  it  is  the  object  of  the  present  article  to  pursue.    It  may 
be  expressed  in.  the  following  proposition : 

"  *  Jesus  Christ,  by  his  atonement,  has  introduced  into  the  moral  gov- 
ernment of  God  the  principle  of  grace,  which  avails  to  the  confirmation 
of  beings  who  are  holy,  as  well  as  to  the  redemption  of  beings  who  arc 
fallen.' " 

In  the  argument  which  follows,  Mr.  Palmer  shows  famil- 
iarity with  the  best  literature  on  the  subject,  from  the  Refor- 
mation times  down.  He  discovers  an  acuteness  and  subtlety 
of  insight,  a  reach  and  vigor  of  the  constructive  imagination, 
an  agility,  ingenuity,  and  strength  of  reasoning  power,  ex- 
traordinary ;  and  he  clothes  all  that  he  has  to  say  in  forms  of 
expression  which  do  indefinite  credit  to  the  training  his  mother 
had  given  him  in  Milton,  Shakespeare  and  the  Bible.  The 
imagery  is  so  lofty  that  it  reminds  the  reader  of  Milton's ;  the 
language  is  so  clear  and  precise  it  suggests  the  student  of 
Shakespeare.  As  he  himself  saw  that  there  wanted  in  his 
arguments  somewhat  to  establish  beyond  the  possibility  of 
doubt  the  proposition  for  which  he  contended,  and,  as  he  ex- 
plicitly confessed  the  defect,  the  reader  who  is  not  carried 
with  him  in  his  conclusion,  cannot  fail  to  admire  greatly 
this  essay. 

In  the  December,  1847,  issue  of  the  Review,  Mr.  Palmer 
enters  upon  "an  examination  of  the  fixed  character  of  the  Jew, 
both  intellectual  and  moral ;"  and  endeavors  to  discover  "the 
causes  which  have  steeped  it  in  its  present  mould."  He  found 
the  most  obvious  traits  of  the  Hebrew  character  to  be,  "its 
almost  superhuman  tenacity;"  "the  singular  elasticity  of  con- 
stitution," which  enables  the  Hebrew  to  recover  position  of 
which  he  has  been  dispossessed  once  the  dispossessing  force 
has  been  withdrawn;  "their  incorrigible  worldly-mindedness 
and  consecration  to  the  service  of  mammon ;"  "their  compara- 
tive freedom  from  the  gross  vices  of  other  races;"  and  their 
intellectual  activity  and  shallowness.  He  explains  the  produc- 
tion of  these  traits  in  the  Hebrew  race  in  an  ingenious  and  able 
manner,  betraying,  by  the  way,  no  small  appreciation  of  the 
Jewish  people  and  character.  Toward  the  close  of  the  paper, 
he  declares  that  "this  analysis  of  the  character  of  the  Jews  has 
been  made  with  the  practical  design  of  interesting  the  reader, 
and  inspiring  a  deep  and  prayerful  regard  for"  the  Jewish 
people;  and  presents  a  number  of  considerations  wherefore 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  129 

Christians  should  strive  especially  for  the  conversion  of  this 
race.    He  declares: 

"Whoever,  then,  feels  a  lively  sympathy  with  Christ  in  his 
present  humiliation  and  prays  to  see  him  Lord  of  the  whole 
earth,  must  be  ill  instructed  if  he  does  not  feel  a  correspond- 
ing anxiety  for  the  salvation  for  the  House  of  Israel.  It  is 
not  improbable  that  God  is  now  reserving  this  people  for  a 
distinguished  service  in  the  way  of  evangelizing  the  world. 
Their  complete  diffusion  over  the  globe — their  comparative  iso- 
lation among  men — the  extraordinary  enthusiasm  and  energy 
of  their  character,  destined  to  be  greater  when  it  shall  be  toned 
by  truth — their  very  conversion  to  Christianity  after  so  many 
ages  of  unbelief — all  adapt  them  for  extraordinary  labor,  in 
the  missionary  service.  Perhaps  the  future  history  of  the 
church  will  reveal  many  a  son  of  Abraham  with  Abraham's 
faith,  doing  the  work  of  Paul,  preaching  the  faith  which  he 
once  destroyed.  And  the  conversion  of  the  Jews,  accomplished 
in  fulfillment  of  a  hundred  predictions,  will  probably  be  the 
grand  fact  argument  by  which  the  truth  of  Christianity,  in 
the  latter  days,  will  be  attested." 

This  article  is  especially  interesting  in  view  of  the  very 
intimate  relations  which  he  sustained  throughout  most  of  his 
later  life  with  the  Jews  in  New  Orleans.  His  interest  in  the 
race  was  long  grown ;  and  was  explained  by  his  concern  for  a 
people  so  interesting  in  themselves  considered,  and  by  his  de- 
sire to  see  them  converted  to  Christianity. 

In  the  issue  of  March,  1848,  of  the  Southern  Presbyterian 
Review,  Mr.  Palmer  appears  with  an  article  on  "An  Inquiry 
into  the  Doctrine  of  Imputed  Sin."  He  espouses  the  doctrine 
of  immediate  imputation;  and  argues  its  truth  with  nicety, 
elegance  and  force.  In  the  issue  of  July,  1849,  he  appears 
in  a  paper  headed,  "A  Plea  for  Doctrine  as  the  Instrument  of 
Sanctification."  The  paper  was  occasioned,  as  may  be  inferred 
pretty  safely,  by  some  of  his  own  experience  as  a  preacher,  not- 
withstanding his  great  popularity.    He  says : 

"That  a  deeply  seated  prejudice  exists  in  many  parts  of  the  church 
against  the  systematic  exposition  of  the  doctrines  of  the  Bible,  is  too 
obvious  a  fact  to  be  questioned.  It  probably  falls  within  the  experience 
of  every  pastor,  to  see  the  gathering  frown,  the  averted  shoulder,  and 
the  drooping  head,  as  soon  as  certain  doctrines  are  announced  as  the 
theme  for  discussion.  It  does  not  excite  our  surprise  that  the  world 
of  the  ungodly  should  manifest  this  displeasure:  for  the  same  'carnal 
9 


/ 


130       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

mind'  which  is  enmity  against  God,  is  enmity  likewise  against  the  truth 
of  God  But  that  professing  Christians  should  engage  in  this  unholy 
crusade  against  doctrinal  religion,  and  that  even  ministers  of  the  gospel 
should  sigh  over  the  earnest  proclamation  of  its  truths,  and  accuse  the 
faithful  witness  of  'daubing  with  untempered  mortar/  is  certainly  a 
most  afflictive  and  atrocious  scandal." 

He  alleges  that  this  strange  phenomenon  is  explicable,  never- 
theless ;  and  asserts  that  in  some  latent  skepticism  of  the  doc- 
trines themselves  is  the  cause ;  that  in  others  timid  concessions 
to  the  clamors  of  the  ungodly  have  had  play ;  that  in  others  the 
fear  of  losing  church  members  by  the  exposition  of  doctrine 
prevails;  that  in  others  indolence  and  sluggishness  of  mind 
lead  them  to  decry  doctrine  and  to  prefer  exhortations;  and 
that  in  others  the  belief  obtains  that  doctrine  is  not  necessary 
to  sanctification.  He  next  presents  five  stages  into  which  the 
ordinary  religious  progress  of  Christians  may  be  divided;  and 
shows  that  doctrine  is  needed  at,  and  through,  every  stage 
in  order  to  progress.  In  the  conclusion  occurs  the  following 
reference  to  the  standards  of  his  Church  as  instruments  of 
sanctification : 

"Indeed,  we  utter  a  long  cherished  conviction,  when  we  say  that,  next 
to  the  Bible,  from  which  all  that  relates  to  God  and  the  soul  must  be 
drawn,  there  are  no  books  we  would  sooner  recommend  for  an  experi- 
mental and  devotional  use  than  the  Calvinistic  Standards.  We  place 
them  in  the  hands  of  children  and  think  their  office  discharged  when 
the  *form  of  sound  words'  is  transferred  to  the  memory.  How  few 
think  (to  appropriate  a  child's  expression)  'to  learn  these  things  by 
heart.'  Many  a  Christian  will  devour  a  whole  library  of  books  of  devo- 
tion and  pious  biographies,  trying  to  draw  on  a  ready-made  experience, 
as  he  would  a  glove,  when  a  better  manual  of  practical  religion  is 
almost  thumbed  out  in  the  hands  of  his  child.  Let  him  put  ninety-nine 
hundredths  of  these  volumes  into  the  fire,  and  thoroughly  digest  his 
Shorter  Catechism,  and  he  will  come  forth  a  stronger,  brighter,  hap- 
pier Christian,  and  in  sooner  time,  than  if  he  had  read  the  memoirs 
of  all  the  saints  and  martyrs  from  Abel  until  now.  The  taste  of  the 
Church  is  so  superficial  that  we  should  not  wonder  if  the  reader  is 
smiling  at  this  as  a  conceit,  rather  than  a  matured  conviction  of  the 
writer.  We  would  only  plead  with  him  for  the  experiment.  Let  him 
take  the  doctrine  which  he  conceives  most  remote  from  practical  life, 
and  most  hidden  among  the  deep  things  of  God — let  him  ponder  it 
over  till  his  mind  has  taken  a  deep  and  firm  grasp  of  it — let  him  trace 
its  relations  to  other  doctrines,  and  to  the  whole  scheme  with  which 
it  harmonizes — above  all,  let  him  pray  over  it,  until  it  is  so  revealed  that 
he  feels  its  power  over  his  own  spirit." 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  131 

In  the  issue  ofthe  same  excellent  Review,  for  October,  1849, 
we  have,  from  Mr.  Palmer's  pen,  an  article  entitled  "Churdi 
and  State."  The  article  discusses  with  penetration  and  power 
the  theories  as  to  the  proper  relation  of  Church  and  State,  de- 
fended, severally,  by  Bishop  Warburton,  Dr.  Thomas  Chal- 
mers, W.  E.  Gladstone,  Esq.,  Dr.  Thomas  Arnold,  and  Baptist 
W.  Noel,  M.A.  The  writer  discovers  his  ability  to  put  his 
hand  on  the  weak  spot  in  a  theory,  and  to  find  the  joints  in 
the  harness  of  his  enemy.  Such  studies  as  this  show  that 
it  was  by  no  accident  that  Mr.  Palmer  came  to  be  an  acknowl- 
edged master  of  the  principles  of  church  government.  In  the 
April  issue  for  1850,  Mr.  Palmer  resumes  the  discussions  of 
the  same  general  subject,  pays  his  special  respects  to  the 
theories  of  Mr.  Gladstone  and  Mr.  Coleridge;  takes  up  the 
five  leading  arguments  by  which  the  advocates  of  the  union  of 
Church  and  State  plead  for  this  union,  tears  them  up  by  the 
roots,  and  effectually  disposes  of  them  at  the  bar  of  reason. 
He  commends  the  relation  of  mutual  and  helpful  independence 
between  Church  and  State.  Dr.  Thomas  E.  Peck,  in  his  "Ec- 
clesiology,"  chapter  xiv.,  "Other  Theories  of  Church  and 
State,"  pays  to  these  discussions  of  young  Mr.  Palmer  a  hand- 
some tribute.  He  forms  this  chapter  in  large  part  by  a  reduc- 
tion of  Mr.  Palmer's  presentation  of  the  several  theories.  He 
did  this  apparently  without  knowing  who  the  author  was.  The 
articles  were  unsigned.  The  author  of  the  "Ecclesiology"  sim- 
ply refers  by  volume  and  pages  of  the  Review  to  the  presenta- 
tions which  had  pleased  him  so  much. 

In  the  issue  of  October,  1850,  he  appeared  with  a  paper  en- 
titled "Christianity  Vindicated  from  the  Charge  of  Fanaticism." 
He  found  the  plan  of  this  paper  in  the  reply  of  Paul  to  the 
Procurator  Festus,  who  had  charged  the  Apostle  with  being 
beside  himself:  "I  am  not  mad,  most  noble  Festus,  but  speak 
forth  the  words  of  truth  and  soberness."  He  first  presents  a 
"compendious  and  portable  argument  for  the  truth  of  Chris- 
tianity;" and  then  the  sober,  sane,  balanced  view  that  the 
Christian  takes  of  things.  The  production  is  acute  and  strong, 
and,  in  places,  brilliant.  In  October,  1852,  there  appeared  in 
the  same  periodical  an  article  entitled  "Baconianism  and  the 
Bible."  It  contained  the  substance  of  an  address  delivered  be- 
fore the  literary  societies  of  Davidson  College,  N.  C,  August 
II,  1852.  After  a  graphic  portrayal  of  the  methods  and  rela- 
tive fruitlessness  of  the  Greek  philosophy,  the  author  sketches 


132       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

the  Baconian  methods  and  the  beneficent  and  splendid  results 
flowing  from  the  application  of  this  method.  He  then  proceeds 
to  show  why  this  philosophy  should  be  the  philosophy  of  Prot- 
estantism; and  that  revelation,  so  far  from  being  hostile  to 
science,  contributes  a  powerful  incidental  influence  in  its  favor. 
After  a  most  effective  argument  he  takes  the  ground  that  there 
never  could  have  been  a  Bacon  without  the  Bible ;  that  Francis 
Bacon  was  the  offspring  of  the  Reformation  which  gave  the 
Bible  to  the  world  again ;  and  that  he  did  for  philosophy  what 
Luther  had  done  for  the  Bible,  bringing  out  "the  older  vol- 
ume of  nature"  and  interpreting  its  cipher  to  mankind.  In  the 
conclusion,  he  takes  occasion  to  sound  the  warning  that  the 
philosophy  which  ignores  the  Bible  and  cancels  its  testimony, 
is  not  only  baptized  into  the  spirit  of  infidelity,  but  "has  apos- 
tatized from  the  fundamental  articles  of  the  Baconian  creed," 
which  forbids  the  exclusion  of  a  single  pertinent  fact  from  its 
generalizations.  We  cannot  follow  the  author  in  an  apparently 
unqualified  endorsation  of  Mr.  Locke's  philosophy,  and  in 
other  positions  taken  by  the  way ;  nevertheless  he  has  delighted 
us  with  the  breadth  of  his  attainments,  the  vigor  of  his 
thought,  the  force,  fire  and  splendor  of  his  rhetoric,  and  the 
strength  of  his  arguments,  so  that  we  are  in  full  sympathy 
with  his  closing  words : 

"This  discourse  gives  in  two  words — Baconianism  and  the  Bible — 
a  portable  argument  paralyzing  the  skeptic  with  the  shock  of  the  tor- 
pedo. The  Baconian  philosophy  is  the  mother  of  that  proud  science 
which  sheds  such  glory  upon  the  age  in  which  we  live ;  and  this  philos- 
ophy, as  already  shown,  has  historical  and  logical  connections  with 
the  Bible,  the  charter  of  our  religious  hopes.  We  may  rest  therefore 
in  the  conviction  that  as  the  Bible  has  conferred  the  largest  benefits 
on  philosophy,  true  science  will  repay  it  with  the  largest  gratitude. 
Kindling  her  torch  at  every  light  between  a  glowworm  and  a  star, 
she  will  read  to  us  *the  silent  poem  of  creation.'  She  will  appear,  like 
an  ancient  priestess,  in  the  sacred  temple  of  religion;  and  burn  the 
frankincense  of  all  her  discoveries  upon  the  altar  of  inspired  truth. 
She  will  assemble  the  elements  and  powers  of  nature  in  one  mighty 
orchestra,  and  revelation  shall  give  the  keynote  of  praise,  while  heaven 
and  earth  join  in  the  rehearsal  of  the  grand  oratorio." 

In  January,  1853,  "The  Qaims  of  the  English  Language" 
appeared  as  the  leading  article  of  the  Southern  Presbyterian 
Review  for  the  month.  It  was  the  substance  of  an  address 
delivered  before  the  literary  societies  of  Oglethorpe  University, 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  133 

Ga.,  November,  1852.  It  was  a  magnificent  plea  for  the  study 
of  the  English  tongue,  for  the  exaltation  of  the  English  lan- 
guage to  the  same  preeminence  among  the  languages  which 
those  who  speak  it  enjoy  among  the  nations.  The  advocate 
had  vast  stores  of  pertinent  truth  which  he  set  forth  with 
marvelous  felicity  and  power.  The  plea  was  needed  at  the  time. 
If  republished  in  pamphlet  form  and  put  into  the  hands  of 
young  men  entering  college  to-day,  it  could  hardly  fail  of  doing 
incalculable  good. 

In  the  April  issue  for  1853,  appeared,  from  his  pen,  an 
article  on  "Mormonism."  He  had  read  this  as  a  lecture  be- 
fore the  Mercantile  Library  Association  of  Charleston,  January 
26,  1853, 2Lnd,  at  their  request,  published  it  with  such  verbal  al- 
terations as  adapted  it  to  the  Review,  In  its  preparation  he  had 
studied  Howard  Stansbury's  "Exploration  and  Survey  of  the 
Valley  of  the  Great  Salt  Lake  of  Utah,*'  a  "History  of  the 
Mormons,  or  Latter  Day  Saints;  with  Memoirs  of  the  Life 
and  Death  of  Joseph  Smith,  the  American  Mahomet,'*  and 
Lieut.  J.  W.  Gunnison's  "The  Mormons,  or  Latter  Day  Saints, 
in  the  Valley  of  the  Great  Salt  Lake ;  a  History  of  Their  Rise 
and  Progress,  Peculiar  Doctrines,  Present  Conditions  and  Pros- 
pects, Derived  from  Personal  Observations  During  a  Residence 
Among  Them."  In  the  paper  he  attempts  to  exhibit  Mor- 
monism  by  running  parallels  in  certain  more  prominent  points 
with  Mohammedanism.  The  essay  was  constructed  with  a 
philosophic  spirit.  The  reader  may  not  be  able,  to  accept  the 
philosophy  in  every  point;  but  every  page  provokes  thought 
as  well  as  informs;  and  every  page  suggests  that  its  writer 
was  a  man  of  broad  philosophic  spirit.  Let  the  following 
excerpt  serve  as  an  illustrative  proof  of  the  kind  of  spirit  that 
pervades  and  informs  the  article : 

"It  is  never  easy  to  form  a  correct  estimate  of  religious  impostors. 
The  deceit  and  falsehood  which  mark  their  course  seem  scarcely 
consistent  with  the  religious  sentiment  that  must  underlie  the  char- 
acter. The  great  controversy,  for  example,  whether  Mohammed  was 
a  fanatic  or  an  impostor,  proceeds  upon  the  supposed  incompatibility 
of  the  two;  yet  their  co-existence  is  needed  to  solve  the  facts  of  the 
case.  We  cannot  explain  the  origin  of  a  religious  impostor,  without 
supposing  the  religious  element  to  be  awakened,  however  it  may  be 
afterwards  debauched  and  misdirected.  The  history  of  error  abun- 
dantly shows  that  the  most  vicious  principles  will  often  mingle  with 
the  religious  instincts  of  men,  who  are  driven  under  this  double  impulse 


/( 


134       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

into  the  most  riotous  excesses.  The  original  exciting-  cause  may  be 
slight  enough;  but  the  hallucination,  once  entertained,  of  miraculous 
correspondence  with  heaven,  an  unscrupulous  or  ignorant  conscience 
will  not  long  hesitate  at  fraud  in  accomplishing  the  holy  mission;  and 
when  success  shall  have  consecrated  the  cheat,  the  impostor  becomes 
fully  ensnared  in  his  own  lie,  and  easily  accredits  to  supernatural  reve- 
lation the  suggestion  of  his  own  fancy.  Joseph  Smith,  the  founder  of 
the  Mormon  sect,  is  dogmatically  pronounced  an  impostor  by  thousands 
who  do  not  stop  to  enquire  how  far  he  may  also  have  been  an  enthusi- 
ast; or  to  solve  the  query  whether  it  be  possible  to  control  the  re- 
ligious convictions  of  our  fellow  men,  without  a  previous  excitation 
of  our  religious  nature.  The  biography  of  this  remarkable  person 
opens  with  the  account  of  his  deep  spiritual  distress  during  an  exciting 
religious  revival  through  which  he  passed  while  yet  a  youth.  Perplexed 
in  his  choice  between  conflicting  sects  and  creeds,  he  was  for  a  time 
in  that  state  of  indecision  in  which  multitudes  vibrate  between  super- 
stition and  skepticism.  While  perhaps  on  the  verge  of  infidelity,  he 
swung  to  the  opposite  pole,  and  conceived  the  project  of  founding  a 
church,  whose  comprehensive  creed  should  harmonize  all  sects,  and 
swallow  up  dissent:  and  this  lively  suggestion  of  his  own  mind  a 
heated  imagination  may  easily  have  coined  into  a  vision  of  God. 
Seven  years,  however,  elapse,  before  this  bold  conception  embodies  it- 
self in  a  decided  scheme.  While  *the  vision  tarries/  the  nascent  prophet 
relapses,  if  the  story  be  true,  into  the  vagrant  habits  of  his  early  life, 
which  show  him  to  be  constitutionally  of  a  deeply  superstitious  turn. 
By  the  aid  of  seerstones  and  hazel  rods,  he  had  gained  no  small  repu- 
tation as  a  money-digger.  Certainly,  if  he  failed  to  track  the  secret 
veins  of  silver,  he  did  not  fail  to  sound  the  depths  of  human  credulity. 
At  the  end  of  seven  years,  he  is  prepared  to  enter  upon  prophetical 
functions,  and  announces  a  new  revelation,  whose  origin  forms  a 
curious  record  in  the  annals  of  literary  forgery."* 

No  less  than  three  of  the  articles  to  which  attention  has  just 
been  called  had  been  prepared  first  of  all  to  serve  as  addresses 
before  scholastic  or  literary  bodies.  During  this  period  Mr. 
Palmer  came  into  great  demand  for  occasional  addresses.  More 
particularly  the  demand  for  this  sort  of  service  at  his  hands 
came  into  vogue  about  1850.  In  a  letter  written  by  young 
Basile  Edward  Lanneau,  June  22,  1850,  we  read: 

"The  exhibition  at  Barhamville  on  Wednesday  night  was  quite 
brilliant  .  .  .  The  crowning  exercise  of  the  occasion  was  an  address 
to  the  graduating  class,  after  they  had  received  their  diplomas,  by  the 
Rev.  B.  M.  Palmer,  whose  merits  as  universal  speechmaker  are  just 

*  See  pp.  561,  562. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  135 

beginning  to  be  discovered.  The  object  was  to  delineate  the  'perfect 
woman/  in  which  he  struck  all  the  tones  'from  grave  to  gay/  from 
lively  to  severe.  It  was  beautiful,  witty  and  solemn,  all  by  turns,  and 
seems  to  have  given  universal  satisfaction.  The  Telegraph  has  re- 
quested it  for  publication,  and  so  a  copy  may  possibly  reach  you.  I 
hope  it  did  good.  'G>usin  Augusta'  (Mrs.  Palmer)  probably  sat  for 
the  portrait,  at  least  in  his  mind;  and  I  must  do  her  the  justice  to 
say  that  she  is  not  very  far  short  of  the  ideal." 

Mr.  Palmer  seems  to  have  made  no  attempt  at  keeping  a 
journal.  How  much  of  this  sort  of  occasional  service  he  did 
it  is  perhaps  impossible  to  discover.  But  as  has  been  seen, 
in  the  year  1852  his  address  before  the  literary  societies  of 
Davidson  College,  and  that  before  the  literary  societies  of 
Oglethorpe  University,  were  so  elaborate  and  able  that  they 
were  deemed  worthy  of  publication  in  the  Southern  Presbyte- 
rian Review. 

Of  the  impression  made  by  the  former  of  these  addresses, 
the  Rev.  Professor  Wm.  T.  Hall,  of  Columbia  Seminary, 
writes : 

"The  first  time  I  ever  saw  him  was  on  the  rostrum  at  Davidson 
College.  He  delivered  as  a  commencement  oration  a  discourse  on 
'Baconianism  and  the  Bible/  At  first  we  were  not  prepossessed.  He 
was  rather  small,  his  complexion  was  dark,  his  face  was  dished,  his 
whole  appearance  was  against  him.  But  he  had  not  spoken  long  until 
he  had  full  attention.  Interest  deepened  as  he  proceeded.  The  interest 
was  genuine,  but  not  painful.  We  found  ourselves  carried  along  by  the 
full  tide  of  the  discourse,  our  vision  gradually  enlarging,  and  every 
faculty  enlisted  and  charmed.  The  spell  of  the  orator  was  upon  us. 
Weeks  passed  before  the  echoes  of  that  oration  ceased  to  be  heard 
on  the  college  campus." 

August  9,  1854,  he  addressed  the  literary  societies  of  Erskine^ 
College,  South  Carolina,  on  "The  Love  of  Truth  the  Inspira- 
tion of  the  Scholar."  In  illustrative  proof  of  this  simple 
proposition  he  pointed  in  a  profoundly  philosophical  way  to 
the  relations  sustained  by  the  human  mind  to  the  external 
world ;  to  the  repose  which  belief  brings  to  the  human  mind, 
as  contrasted  with  the  anguish  of  doubt ;  and  to  the  considera- 
tion that  error  is  always  poison  to  the  mind,  while  truth  is 
the  food  upon  which  it  thrives  and  grows.  He  followed  with 
a  presentation  of  motives  which  should  urge  the  student  to 
cultivate  the  love  of  truth,  closing  with  a  consideration  of  ob- 
stacles which  most  retard  its  progress.     It  is  philosophically 


/ 


136       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

able  and  rhetorically  brilliant.  The  style  shows  that  the 
speaker  was  not  a  little  under  the  influence  of  Mr.  Macaulay. 
The  production  shows  that  he  had  been  ploughing  in  the  master 
thinkers,  and  more  widely  still.  The  reader  notes  in  him  "the 
cormorant  appetite  with  which  things  most  crude  and  strange 
have  been  devoured,  and  the  facility  with  which  these  are  con- 
verted into  apt  and  beautiful  illustrations.  A  child's  horn  book, 
or  a  fairy  tale — Cinderella's  slippers,  or  Aladdin's  lamp — 
nothing  comes  amiss."  From  his  copious  reading  springs  such 
an  affluence  of  illustration  as  makes  his  speeches  sparkle  with 
life  and  beauty.  By  special  request  of  the  faculty  and  students 
the  address  was  at  once  published  in  pamphlet  form. 

June  4,  1855,  he  delivered  a  discourse,  on  John  6:68,  69, 
before  the  graduating  class  of  the  University  of  North  Caro- 
lina. In  this  discourse  he  ably  and  eloquently  argued  the  two 
propositions,  viz :  L  That  man's  religious  nature  constrains  him 
to  And  repose  in  some  form  of  faith  and  worship,  II.  That  the 
wants  of  this  nature,  well  understood,  are  met  only  in  Chris- 
tianity, as  taught  in  the  Gospel.  The  next  day  the  members  of 
the  graduating  class  honored  themselves  by  declaring  that  they 
were  "not  contented  to  have  heard  once,  so  learned  and  mas- 
terly a  discourse,"  which  had  convinced  them  so  thoroughly 
of  the  truth  of  Christianity;  and  by  asking  for  a  copy  for 
publication. 

Many  addresses  less  thoroughly  elaborated  were  delivered 
in  the  course  of  the  period.  Their  character  may  be  gathered 
from  the  description  of  one  which  he  delivered  at  the  close 
of  the  session  of  Columbia  Seminary  in  1852.  The  Rev.  Basile 
Edward  Lanneau  describes  it  in  a  letter  to  his  parents,  bear- 
ing the  date  of  July  16,  1852.    He  says: 

"The  anniversary  of  the  Society  of  Enquiry,  on  Monday  evening, 
was  also  quite  interesting.  In  Dr.  McGill's  absence,  they  fell  back 
on  our  fluent  kinsman,  who,  with  his  usual  readiness  of  concoction  and 
utterance,  gave  us  a  free  and  easy,  plain  and-  powerful  talk  on  the  sub- 
ject of  preaching,  the  sum  of  which  was,  that  the  preacher  was  a  cer- 
tain great  somebody,  with  superhuman  qualifications,  some  of  which 
he  enumerated.  It  contained  some  powerful  and  stirring  thoughts, 
some  perhaps  not  sufficiently  matured,  but  the  more  striking  and 
impressive,  from  the  undress  in  which  they  appeared." 

Columbia  Seminary  had  been  struggling  with  an  insuffi- 
cient endowment,  and,  in  consequence,  with  an  insufficient 
faculty,  from  its  incipiency  up  to  the  year  1855.    The  institu- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  137 

tion  looked  to  the  pastor  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  of 
Columbia,  that  one  of  her  sons  most  honored,  for  no  little 
incidental  service.  He  helped  to  raise  her  endowment  that 
she  might  command  the  labor  of  James  Henley  Thornwell. 
That  service  is  described,  in  part,  in  the  following  letter : 

« 

"Columbia,  S.  C,  March  24,  1855. 
"To  Rev.  B.  E,  Lanneau: 

"Dear  Basile:  It  is  two  weeks  to-day  since  I  returned  from  my 
journey  to  the  Southwest,  and  found  upon  my  table  your  letter  together 
with  some  forty  others.  If  ydurs  has  not  been  answered  before  this 
it  is  because  it  could  afford  to  be  postponed,  while  the  others  had  more 
imperative  claims  upon  my  immediate  attention. 

"You  are  probably  aware  that  about  the  loth  of  January  I  started  out 
with  Dr.  Adger  upon  an  agency  in  behalf  of  the  Seminary  to  secure 
the  endowment  of  a  fourth  chair;  or  rather  to  provide  certainly  for 
Dr.  Thomweirs  support.  The  history  of  the  effort  in  Charleston 
(in  which,  however,  I  had  no  concern,  it  being  conducted  entirely 
by  Drs.  Adger  and  Smith)  you  have  doubtless  learned  through  the 
public  prints.  About  $16,000  was  taken  up  in  money  and  bankable  notes, 
chiefly  in  the  Second  Church  and  in  Glebe  Street  (Church).  This, 
however,  includes  the  $7,500  raised  in  guarantee  of  Dr.  Thomwell's 
salary  for  three  years ;  some  portion  of  which  was  obtained  at  Columbia 
and  elsewhere.  I  then  went  to  Savannah  and  made  a  partially  suc- 
cessful application  there  .  .  .  Dr.  Adger  joined  me  in  a  united  effort 
upon  Augusta;  from  which  place  we  moved  forward  to  Montgomery. 
At  this  point  we  separated,  I  remaining  at  Montgomery,  while  he 
went  to  Selma.  After  this  we  joined  forces  and  made  a  descent  upon 
Mobile,  and  then  upon  New  Orleans.  In  these  several  places  we  col- 
lected about  $12,000,  either  in  money  or  in  notes  bearing  interest, 
maturing  at  specified  times  and  payable  in  bank.  The  endowment 
stands  now  about  $28,000.  Edward,  ipy  brother,  and  Miller,  of  (Thester, 
go  out  next  week  upon  a  joint  agency  for  the  same  object,  to  visit  the 
villages  and  country  churches  of  Alabama.  We  hope  they  will  return 
with  some  $10,000  more.  The  three  churches  in  Charleston  which  as 
yet  have  done  nothing,  together  with  the  adjacent  islands,  will  be  good 
probably  for  $5,000.  Then  if  (Columbia  and  Camden  will  raise  $5,000, 
in  addition,  which  is  not  a  heavy  appraisement,  there  will  remain  only 
some  $12,000  to  be  raised  by  the  rest  of  (Carolina  and  Georgia.  The 
thing  begins  to  look  feasible,  and  notwithstanding  the  hard  times,  we 
are  quietly  pushing  the  endowment  forward.  The  cry  of  hard  times 
has  lost  all  its  terror  to  Adger  and  myself;  for  we  have  heard  it  rung 
in  Qur  ears  for  two  months,  until  we  lost  all  mercy  and  pushed  for- 
ward in  the  very  face  of  bankruptcy  and  ruin  everywhere,  and  we  have 
both  concluded  that  in  spite  of  the  European  war  and  the  storms  and 
the   pestilence,  and   more  than  all,   the   unnavigable   rivers,   still   the 


138       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

country  will  hold  together  long  enough  for  us  to  endow  the  Seminary. 

''As  regards  the  institution,  things  remain  'tn  statu/  There  have  been 
some  accessions,  and  we  are  all  in  harness,  working  with  tight  traces. 
Nothing  new  as  to  Dr.  Thomwell,  who  still  expects  to  leave  the  college 
in  December.  That,  I  hope,  is  now  one  of  Dickens'  'fixed  facts.'  I 
have  not  resigned  my  pastorship,  and  probably  will  not  before  the 
fall  Presbytery.  My  long  absence  has  prevented  that  degree  of 
consultation  with  the  people  necessary  to  so  important  a  step.  Besides, 
I  am  not  unwilling  to  see  further  on  first,  in  this  whole  business. 

"I  cannot  even  begin  to  give  you  the  particulars  of  my  Western 
trip.  It  was  in  many  respects  very  pleasant.  I  made  many  new  and 
valued  friends,  and,  I  hope,  made  some  capital  for  the  seminary; 
but  among  the  things  most  agreeable  were  two  or  three  surprises. 
First  of  all  was  my  meeting  with  Palmer  Pillans,  whom  I  supposed 
to  be  in  Texas.  At  Mobile,  standing  at  the  church  door,  I  saw  a  man 
eyeing  me  intently  as  I  approached,  and  though  his  face  was  entirely 
in  the  bushes,  after  the  fashion  of  the  time,  I  penetrated  the  disguise 
at  a  glance  and  recognized  Palmer,  whom  I  had  not  seen  since  1836. 
The  pleasure,  I  believe,  was  mutual,  and  I  found  him  the  same  old 
fellow  that  he  was  when  we  were  boys  together.  I  was  greatly  pleased, 
too,  with  his  very  pretty  wife,  whom  I  would  have  kissed,  pretty 
cousin  as  she  was,  if  I  had  not  been  afraid  of  Palmer.  At  New  Or- 
leans, of  course,  I  saw  Foster  Axson  and  his  sweet  little  wife,  but 
this  was  not  a  surprise  as  I  knew  of  his  location  there. 

"From  New  Orleans  I  ascended  the  Mississippi,  merely  to  say  that 
I  had  sailed  on  the  Father  of  Waters,  as  high  as  Vicksburg,  and  there 
found  to  my  very  great  pleasure  three  families  of  Bunce  cousins—one 
on  my  mother's  side,  and  none  of  whom  had  I  ever  before  seen.  Two 
hundred  and  fifty  miles  of  rough  staging  brought  me  back  to  Montgom- 
ery. At  Liberty  I  found  a  religious  meeting  in  progress  with  some 
interest,  and  here  I  spent  three  da^s  of  extremely  delightful  and  profit- 
able labor.  When  I  left,  some  thirty  persons  or  more  were  anxiously 
enquiring  the  way  of  life,  and  some  had  already  found  it. 

"I  am  at  home  once  more  and  full  of  work  as  usual. 

"Yours  affectionately, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

During  the  school  year,  1851  to  1852,  also,  Mr.  Palmer  had 
served  the  seminary,  by  lecturing  on  Church  History  and 
Church  Polity;  again,  during  the  session  1853-1854,  he  had 
given  similar  service.  In  1854  he  was  elected  as  professor  for 
that  chair.  From  that  date  on  to  October,  1855,  he  is  to  be 
thought  of  as  filling  both  posts,  his  pastorate  and  professorship. 
During  the  session  1854- 185 5,  he  is  said  to  have  toiled  about 
thirteen  hours  a  day.    He  kept  up  his  labors  through  the  sum- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  139 

mer  and  early  autumn  of  1855.    On  the  7th  of  September,  1855, 
he  writes  to  Dr.  J.  B.  Adger: 

"I  am  very  hard  at  work  on  my  lectures  for  the  next  term;  and 
notwithstanding  my  numerous  drawbacks  from  job  work  of  different 
kinds,  I  hope  by  October  to  be  sufficiently  forwarded,  so  that  with  the 
labors  of  another  term,  I  shall  have  covered  the  whole  ground  with  a 
set  of  lectures.  It  is  a  very  heavy  undertaking,  however,  and  I  may  not 
quite  compass  it 

"I  must  be  brief,  as  I  have  much  to  do  before  going  to  bed,  and  I 
must  rise  at  5  o'clock  in  the  morning.  I  cannot  stop  to  confer  about 
various  other  matters. 

"Yours  in  love, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

Meanwhile,  during  these  years  he  had  been  making  his 
home  life  contributory  to  his  influence  for  good.  His  home 
was  always  open  to  the  young  people  of  character  and  promise. 
The  ties  of  kinship  perhaps  were  chiefly  of  force  in  determniing 
that  the  gifted  young  Basile  Edward  Lanneau  should  reside 
in  Mr.  Palmer's  home,  during  a  portion  of  his  student  career 
in  the  seminary,  and  continue  to  take  his  meals  there  during 
his  later  residence  in  the  seminary  as  student,  and  instructor 
in  Hebrew.  On  similar  grounds  might  be  explained  his  brother 
Edward's  residing  in  his  home  during  his  seminary  career ;  but 
there  were  cases  of  a  different  kind.  His  home  and  heart 
were  ever  open  to  young  men,  whom  helping,  he  felt  he  might 
also  help  his  Master.  Allusion  has  previously  beeh  made  to 
Mr.  R.  H.  Reid.  This  young  man  had,  while  at  the  famous 
classical  school  of  Westly  Leverette,  in  Anderson,  S.  C,  come 
under  Mr.  Palmer's  influence.  The  latter  was  at  the  time  a 
licentiate,  just  from  the  seminary.  He  was  already  preaching 
with  effect.  In  the  course  of  his  brief  service  at  Anderson  he 
conducted  a  protracted  meeting;  a  goodly  number  confessed 
Christ  and  united  with  the  church.  Young  Reid  was  among  the 
number. 

In  April,  1843,  Mr.  Palmer  received  a  letter  from  Mr. 
Reid,  acquainting  him  with  his  desire  to  study  for  the  min- 
istry and  seeking  some  information  as  to  terms  of  entrance 
into  the  college  in  Columbia,  and  some  advice  as  to  what  was 
practical  for  him  to  undertake.  In  reply  to  this  Mr.  Palmer 
wrote : 

"Columbia,  S.  C,  May  5,  1843. 
"Dear  Reid:  Your  letter,  dated  22d  ult,  was  received  not  long  since 


I40       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

and  gave  me,  I  assure  you,  very  great  satisfaction.  I  am  glad  to  be 
assured  by  yourself  that  your  religious  impressions  have  not  been 
like  the  morning  cloud  and  the  early  dew/  and  still  more  that  the 
Spirit  of  God  seems  to  be  drawing  you  into  the  holy  ministry.  It 
is  a  noble  work,  and  we  are  more  than  repaid  for  all  the  self  denial 
and  laborious  duty  which  we  are  called  to  endure  and  to  perform.  I 
trust  that  you  realize  its  importance,  and  the  solemn  obligations 
which  those  assume  who  enter  into  it  I  am  glad  also  to  find  that  you 
feel  the  value  of  a  full  course  of  study.  Depend  upon  it,  you  will  feel 
it  more  and  more  every  day  of  your  life,  and  if  you  should  spend  six 
years  or  more  in  study,  I  do  not  think  you  would  ever  regret  it.  But 
I  will  not  stop  now  to  dwell  upon  general  topics,  but  proceed  at  once 
to  speak  concerning  your  studies. 

"Your  ignorance  of  mathematics  will,  I  fear,  be  an  effectual  bar 
to  your  admission  into  the  Sophomore  class.  I  had  supposed  at  first 
that  you  might  enter  as  far  in  advance  as  that,  and  then  you  would  rise 
into  the  Junior  class  in  December,  and  be  only  two  years  and  two 
months  in  college.  But  from  your  account  your  education  hitherto  has 
been  unequal,  that  is,  you  have  been  pushed  farther  in  some  branches 
than  in  others.  I  send  you,  in  company  with  this  letter,  a  catalogue  of 
the  college,  in  the  latter  part  of  which  you  will  find  an  account  of  the 
studies  which  are  required  for  admission  into  the  college.  In  compar- 
ing your  letter  with  this  catalogue,  I  imagine  that  you  might  enter 
the  Freshman  class  in  October,  and  rise  to  Sophomore  in  December 
and  thus  be  a  little  more  than  three  years  in  college.  I  presume  you 
are  fully  prepared  for  that  position  as  far  as  your  classical  and  Eng- 
lish studies  are  concerned.  You  will  perceive  also  that  the  Freshman 
class  have  studied  in  mathematics  Bourdon's  Algebra  and  Legendre's 
Geometry.  By  the  first  of  July  they  will  have  been  pursuing  these 
studies  for  nine  months;  the  vacation  commences  in  July  and  they 
will  do  nothing  till  October.  Now  the  question  is,  can  you,  by  study- 
ing very  hard  on  these  branches,  acquire  in  four  months  what  the  class 
has  acquired  in   nine  months?     Perhaps  you  may. 

"I  will  try  and  send  you  by  Mr.  Orr,  who  is  now  in  town,  the  neces- 
sary books,  that  is,  'Grecian  and  Roman  Antiquities,'  'Bourdon's  Al- 
gebra,' and  'Legendre's  Geometry,'  and  Tytler's  History.'  If  you  can, 
I  would  advise  you  to  drop  your  school  at  once,  and  devote  your  whole 
time  to  the  study  of  these  books.  If  I  were  keeping  house  now,  I  would 
urge  you  to  come  down  at  once  and  live  with  me  and  let  me  assist 
you  in  your  studies,  but  as  that  cannot  be,  I  would  recommend  to  stiidy 
by  yourself  as  much  as  you  can  those  branches  in  which  you  are  de- 
ficient, I  think  that  by  hard  study  you  might  catch  up  with  the  class, 
and  thereby  save  a  year  in  college.  .  . 

"You  can  do  one  of  these  two  things,  provided  you  make  up  your 
mind  to  use  great  diligence.  You  must  write  to  me  upon  the  reception 
of  this  letter  and  tell  me  what  you  think  of  these  matters,  and  now, 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia^  S.  C.  141 

Reid,  you  must  put  your  hand  to  the  plough  and  must  not  look  back; 
this  course  of  study  will  require  great  patience  and  unwearied  diligence, 
but  remember  you  do  it  for  the  Lord,  and  that  you  will  have  your 
reward  in  the  end. 

"I  think  you  might  get  some  assistance  and  direction  in  your  mathe- 
matical studies.  There  is  Mr.  Orr,  and  young  Harrison,  now  in  col- 
lege, and  General  Whitman,  all  of  whom  can  give  you  advice  and  di- 
rection, if  you  should  become  bothered  in  your  studies.  I  would  just 
ride  up  to  Anderson  and  apply  to  some  of  them;  no  doubt  any  one  of 
them  will  be  glad  to  help  a  poor  fellow  over  the  rough  path  of  learn- 
ing. That  the  blessing  of  God  may  attend  you  in  your  studies  is  my 
prayer.    Love  to  your  father  and  mother  and  brother  and  all  friends. 

"Yours  most  truly, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

Very  soon  Mr.  Palmer  was  in  possession  of  a  home  into 
which  he  could  take  his  young  friend.  He  at  once  wrote,  tell- 
ing Mr.  Reid  that,  if  he  could  raise  the  other  money  necessary 
for  his  college  expenses,  his  board  should  cost  him  nothing. 
The  story  may  be  continued  in  Mr.  Reid's  own  language : 

"The  first  of  October,  1843,  found  me  in  Columbia,  a  member  of 
Dr.  Palmer's  family.  As  I  had  never  studied  algebra,  he  advised  me  to 
wait  till  the  first  of  December  before  I  applied  for  matriculation  in  col- 
lege. He  taught  me  one  hour  a  day  for  two  months  and  I  entered  the 
Sophomore  class,  and  for  six  years  I  was  a  member  of  Dr.  Palmer's 
family.  When  I  graduated  from  the  college,  in  1846,  I  moved  to  the 
seminary  but  still  remained  a  member  of  Dr.  Palmer's  family.  Par- 
ents cannot  treat  a  child  with  more  kindness  than  I  received  from  Dr. 
Palmer  and  his  wife.  I  learned  much  from  him  in  his  table  talk. 

"I  am  now  (1904)  eighty-three  years  of  age.  I  have  come  into  con- 
tact with  many  men  of  prominence  in  my  work ;  but  I  have  never  found 
but  one  Dr.  Palmer, — the  prince  of  preachers,  the  model  Christian 
gentleman,  helpful  alike  to  the  rich  and  poor,  whose  single  aim  through 
a  long,  laborious  life  has  been  the  salvation  of  souls,  and  the  extension 
of  the  Redeemer's  kingdom." 

In  helping  such  youths  Mr.  Palmer  was  multiplying  his  own 
influence  for  good.  This  may  be  seen  by  glancing  at  the  re- 
sults of  Mr.  R.  H.  Reid's  ministry.  After  a  brief  period 
of  service  as  pastor  at  Anderson,  S.  C,  Mr.  Reid  accepted  a 
call  to  Nazareth  Church  in  the  district  of  Spartanburg  and 
began  his  long,  honorable  and  largely  useful  pastorate  in  that 
church  in  January,  1853.  Presbyterianism  throughout  the  dis- 
trict received  mighty  impulses  to  growth  from  his  labors.  In 
his  New  Year's  sermon  in  1857,  he  brought  before  his  con- 


142       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

gregation  the  subject  of  education.  As  a  result,  in  October 
of  that  year,  the  cornerstone  of  the  Reidville  High  Schools, 
male  and  female,  was  laid.  These  schools  have  continued  for 
about  a  half  a  century  a  source  of  incalculable  good  to  all  "the 
region  round  about."  Not  only  in  these  ways  but  in  still 
others  did  Mr.  Reid  serve  the  people  of  his  district.  He, 
and  to  some  extent,  Mr.  Palmer,  in  him,  served  them  nobly. 
The  following  letter  written,  indeed,  before  Mr.  Reid  began 
his  work  in  Spartanburg  district,  is  valuable  as  showing  that 
Mr.  Palmer  continued  to  further  his  influence  over  him  after 
he  had  begun  his  active  work  of  the  ministry,  and  so  to  work 
through  him.  It  is  valuable,  too,  as  revealing  frankly  some 
traits  of  Mr.  Palmer's  own  character ;  and  as  showing  him  in 
an  aspect  in  which  he  frequently  appears  in  this  period,  that  of 
an  adviser  and  comforter  of  his  brethren  on  occasion : 

Columbia,  May  i,  1850. 

''Dear  Reid:  I  acknowledge  the  receipt  of  two  letters  from  you, 
since  my  last  to  yourself.  The  former  of  these  I  would  have  answered 
immediately,  had  there  been  time  for  you  to  receive  it  before  the  meet- 
ing of  your  Presbytery;  the  latter  has  just  come  to  hand.  As  they 
both  run  in  much  the  same  strain  they  may  conveniently  be  answered 
together. 

"I  will  not  disguise  from  you,  my  dear  fellow,  that  the  tenor  of  your 
recent  letters  has  occasioned  me  some  uneasiness.  My  attachment 
to  you  prompts  the  most  earnest  wish  that  you  may  have  an  even 
and  pleasant  course  through  life;  but  that  if  your  lot  is  to  confront 
trials,  that  you  may  pass  both  bravely  and  discreetly  through  them. 
So  far  as  I  am  acquainted  with  your  public  acts,  they  are  just  such  as 
I  approve.  You  did  wisely  not  to  yield  to  the  pressure  of  public  opin- 
ion, forcing  you  against  your  judgment  and  your  conscience  into  the 
associations  of  the  day,  which  wear  so  many  Protean  shapes  that  we 
scarcely  become  acquainted  with  one  disguise  before  it  is  shifted  for 
another.  I  concur,  too,  in  the  decision  not  to  yield  your  pulpit  and 
your  people  on  a  Sabbath  of  your  appointment,  out  of  mere  courtesy 
to  another  denomination.  The  whole  arrangement  which  previously 
existed  was  a  scandal;  and  I  am  glad  that  you  had  the  firmness  to 
resist  at  the  outset.  Your  recent  refusal  also  to  be  ordained  except 
upon  the  call  of  the  people  to  settle  as  their  pastor,  I  highly  approve. 
There  are  but  two  offices  to  which,  in  accordance  with  our  discipline, 
it  is  possible  for  a  minister  to  be  ordained :  that  of  pastor,  and  that  of 
evangelist.  But  to  ordain  ex  professo  for  the  latter,  when  everybody 
knows  you  are  de  facto  the  other,  strikes  me  as  a  sort  of  pious  fraud 
The  impolicy  of  this  species  of  Jesuitism  is  palpable,  since  no  good 
is  proposed  to  be   effected,   but  the   very  great   evil   of   discharging 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  143 

churches  from  the  obligations  which  ought  to  lie  with  power  upon 
their  consciences.  In  relation  to  the  postponement  of  your  ordination 
as  pastor,  I  am  glad  to  be  set  right  by  your  letter;  though  Gaillard  had 
previously  undeceived  me.  Your  preceding  communication  merely 
stated  that  you  had  abandoned  the  expectation  of  being  ordained, 
without  assigning  reasons  for  the  change,  and  indeed,  without  hinting 
whether  the  postponement  was  for  a  limited  or  for  an  indefinite  time. 
Having  no  clue  of  interpretation  but  the  desponding  tone  of  all  your 
recent  letters,  I  conjectured  that  you  were  utterly  disheartened,  or  else 
that  some  issue  had  sprung  up  between  the  Anderson  people  and  your- 
self, which  had  resulted  in  a  separation.  I  am  glad  that  it  is  not  so; 
and  that  you  and  they  are  still  looking  forward  at  no  distant  day  for 
the  consummation  of  the  pastoral  relation. 

"I  must  do  you  the  justice  to  say  that  I  have  had  no  apprehensions 
as  to  the  substantial  propriety  of  your  actions;  I  could  prophesy,  with 
considerable  confidence,  upon  the  rise  of  every  emergency,  very  much 
the  decision  you  would  finally  reach.  My  anxieties  have  been  rather 
directed  to  the  state  of  your  own  feelings,  lest  you  should  work  your- 
self into  a  morbid  state  of  mind,  unfavorable  both  for  action  and  for 
deliberation  in  the  midst  of  pressing  difficulties.  For  some  time  past, 
all  your  letters  have  been  tinged  with  a  gloom  which,  I  think,  you 
should  promptly  shake  off.  This  is  not  easy  to  one  of  a  desponding 
temperament;  especially  when,  as  in  your  case,  the  despondency  is 
united  with  a  nervous  excitability  of  the  physical  man,  and  a  high 
degree  of  sensibility  in  the  inner  and  spiritual  man.  Yet  I  do  not  hes- 
itate to  say,  that  all  of  your  comfort  and  a  large  degree  of  your  pros- 
pective usefulness,  depend  upon  your  controlling  these  decided  tenden- 
cies of  your/character.  Why,  here  you  have  been  fretting  yourself  into 
fits  because  the  world  is  split  up  into  Odd  Fellows,  Free  Masons,  Sons  of 
Temperance,  et  id  omne  genus,  and  because  the  Church  is  half  asleep, 
content  to  starve  their  preacher  with  half  an  allowance  of  bread  and 
their  own  souls  with  half  an  allowance  of  gospel  truth.  It  must  be 
confessed,  the  case  is  bad  enough  to  make  a  good  man  sigh.  But 
can  it  be  you  have  forgotten  that  we  have  God,  and  time  and  truth 
upon  our  side,  and  that  we  can  afford  to  be  patient?  We  belong  to 
a  system  which  is  eternal,  and  which  sweeps  in  cycles  that  utterly  bafHe 
all  human  comprehension.  'One  day  is  with  the  Lord  as  a  thousand 
years,  and  a  thousand  years  as  one  day  ;*  and  though  this  is  far  from  be- 
ing true  of  us,  it  is  true  of  that  divine  scheme  to  which  we  have  conse- 
crated our  lives,  our  hearts  and  our  labors.  It  would  be  pleasant  indeed 
to  be  permitted  to  move  the  church  over  an  entire  semicircle,  or  some 
larger  segment  still;  but  it  is  a  matter  of  profound  thanksgiving  if  we 
are  used  in  pushing  it  forward  but  a  single  inch.  If  God  allows  ages 
to  elapse  in  the  erection  of  that  splendid  temple  in  which  his  praise 
is  to  be  sung  through  all  of  a  future  eternity,  it  is  perhaps  enough  for 
you  and  me  to  put  but  a  single  brick  or  stone  into  the  glorious  structure. 


144       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Be  sure,  that  in  due  season  it  will  go  up ;  and  'the  headstone  be  brought 
forth  with  shoutings,  grace,  grace  unto  it'  I  commend  to  your  notice 
the  thoughts  under  the  second  head  of  a  discourse,  which  I  sent  you  the 
other  day  in  a  number  of  the  Carolinian,  and  which  you  have  doubtless 
received  and  read  before  this  time.  The  great  danger  to  which  you  are 
exposed  is  the  same  to  which  I  am  myself  inclined  in  no  small  degree : 
Note  that  I  speak  only  that  which  I  have  myself  deeply  pondered,  and 
have  frequent  occasion  to  recall  to  my  own  self-rebuke.  It  is  the  dan- 
ger of  impatience  under  opposition,  of  being  wrought  up  to  such  a 
degree  of  exasperation,  that  all  prudence  and  sometimes  all  firmness 
are  overthrown.  What  you  and  I  both  want  are  a  cool  head,  a  warm 
heart  and  a  strong  will.  Survey  calmly  all  the  difficulties  of  your  po- 
sition, decide  prayerfully  upon  the  course  which  you  must  take  in 
surmounting  them,  bring  your  will  firmly  to  bear  you  on  in  that 
chosen  course,  and  then  hold  steady,  waiting  patiently  while  God  and 
truth  and  time  carry  you  to  a  successful  issue.  Nothing  is  gained, 
but  everything  is  lost,  by  getting  into  a  fume,  working  yourself  into 
a  holy  frenzy.  Be  patient;  these  obstacles  are  not  to  be  overcome  by 
a  single  effort,  but  by  long-continued  and  faithful  resistance.  Let  us 
take  a  lesson  from  the  mariners,  who  have  to  shift  their  sails,  and 
tack  from  side  to  side,  and  learn  to  drive  the  vessel  on  oftentimes  in 
the  very  eye  of  the  wind.  It  is  a  great  art  that,  of  managing  a  head 
wind  so  as  to  sail  in  spite  of  it.  But  haste  and  flurry  never  accomplish 
anything.  Napoleon  and  Caesar,  with  all  their  military  skill,  would 
have  lost  every,  battle,  if  they  had  lost  their  self-possession,  but  they 
kept  cool,  and  conquered.  Make  up  your  mind,  dear  Reid,  that  you 
will,  God  helping,  cross  the  Alps  and  take  Rome.  For  what  purpose, 
indeed,  have  we  been  called  to  the  work  of  the  ministry,  but  to  set 
crooked  places  straight?  And  can  we  hope  to  do  so  without  coolness 
and  courage  ?  My  son  Timothy,  *do  thou  endure  hardship  as  a  good  sol- 
dier of  Jesus  Qirist.*  You  will  live  to  see  a  thousand  beautiful  soap 
bubbles  break  themselves  against  that  Rock  on  which  Christ  has 
built  his  Church.  Even  'the  gates  of  hell  shall  not  prevail  against  it.' 
'Consider  him  that  endured  such  contradiction  of  sinners  against  him- 
self, lest  ye  be  wearied  and  faint  in  your  minds;  ye  have  not  yet  re- 
sisted unto  blood,  striving  against  sin.'  It  is  well  to  have  zeal,  even  a 
'consuming  zeal;'  but  it  is  hardly  modest  to  be  more  zealous  than  God 
himself.  If  he  is  patient,  let  us  be  so;  if  he  waits,  we  must  also; 
if  he  tolerates,  we  can  often  do  nothing  more  than  simply  to  protest, 
and  to  wait  the  divine  adjudication  of  the  controversy.  Let  me  cite 
one  more  Scripture,  pertinent  to  the  matter  in  hand:  'The  servant  of 
the  Lord  must  be  gentle  unto  all  men,  apt  to  teach,  patient,  in  meek- 
ness instructing  those  that  oppose  themselves;  if  peradventure  God 
will  give  them  repentance  to  the  acknowledging  of  the  truth,'  etc. 
There  now,  I  am  done.  I  seated  myself  with  the  determination  to 
g^ve  you  a  decent  scolding,  and  I  cannot  put  a  better  smasher  to  my  last 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C  145 

than  the  above  sentiment  of  the  Apostle.  I  will  not  apologize  for  the 
liberty  I  take  in  chastening  you  after  this  fashion.  You  know  that 
with  my  hatred  of  the  pen  I  would  not  take  the  trouble  of  writing  so 
long  a  scold  for  any  whom  I  slightly  regarded.  'Faithful/  you  know, 
'are  the  wounds  of  a  friend;'  'let  the  righteous  smite  me,  it  shall  be 
a  kindness,  and  let  him  reprove  me,  it  shall  be  an  excellent  act  that 
shall  not  break  thy  head.'  .  .  . 

"Brother is  now  in  town  making  arrangements  for  his  wed- 
ding, which  takes  place  on  the  7th  inst.  This  match  has  excited  a 
good  deal  of  remark,  as  his  intended  is  not  only  not  a  pious  girl, 
but  one  exceedingly  gay,  fond  of  dancing,  whose  only  accomplishment 
is  that  she  can  achieve  sixteen  cotillions  in  a  night  She  is  said  to  be 
very  young,  and  without  intelligence,  and  the  spoiled  child  of  in- 
dulgent parents,  but  withal  abundantly  rich.     The  general  impression 

is  that is  making  a  bed  in  a  brierpatch;  and  he  has  doubtless 

injured  himself  in  the  estimation  of  all  sober  and  discreet  people. 

"By  the  way,  this  subject  of  marriage  brings  up  the  curious  part 
of  your  recent  letter  in  which  you  seek  for  whatever  I  have  to  offer 
on  this  subjept  I  had  a  hearty  laugh,  but  have  committed  it  to 
nobody's  confidence  but  Mrs.  Palmer's;  whose  aid  I  must  require,  if 
I  am  to  provide  a  wife  for  you.  It  is  a  delicate  ofKce ;  and  a  man  who 
has  risked  the  responsibility  of  choosing  for  himself,  would  scarcely  con- 
sent to  devolve  the  same  upon  any  other.  You  have,  however,  some 
precedents  for  it:  the  example  of  the  devoted  Oberlin,  the  entranced 
Tennant,  and  last,  but  not  least,  the  famous  John  Calvin.  The  young 
lady  in  my  own  church,  of  whom  I  once  spoke  to  you,-  is  still  single, 
and  though  she  is  poor,  she  has  the  intellectual  and  spiritual  endow- 
ments to  make  an  active  and  useful  Christian  woman,  I  have  but  two 
suggestions  on  the  general  subject;  for  really  my  creed  as  to  matrimony 
is  exceedingly  simple.  The  first  is,  commit  this  selection  of  a  wife  to 
Providence,  and  wait  until  you  are  caught.  In  matrimony,  the  fancy 
of  the  afiFections  must  take  the  initiative.  There  is  no  use  of  spurring 
these  into  action,  they  act  best  when  they  act  spontaneously ;  and  while 
they  do  not  act  it  will  not  distress  you  to  live  singly.  There  is  no  bene- 
fit that  I  know  of  in  loving  the  abstract  passion.  Wait  until  it  assumes 
the  concrete,  and  is  associated  with  some  object  of  love.  My  second 
suggestion  is,  do  not  surrender  yourself  blindly  to  the  impulses  of  the 
taste  and  heart,  but  weigh  in  the  balance  of  a  sound  judgment  the 
qualities  of  any  who  may  have  caught  you  by  the  horns.  Piety, 
prudence  and  intelligence  are  the  prominent  characteristics  she  should 
possess.  If  to  these  she  can  add  a  trace  of  beauty,  that  will  please  the 
eye;  and  if  a  little  pelf,  that  will  relieve  the  purse.  But  neither  of 
these  is  indispensable.  Considering  your  peculiarities,  good  sense  and 
a  disposition  to  look  on  the  bright  side  of  things  are  important  traits. 
Such  a  wife  will  attract  you  to  the  middle  of  the  house — ^the  safest  place, 
— whereas,  you  are  probably  disposed  to  live  either  in  the  garret  or 
10 


146       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

the  cellar.  A  good  wife  is  from  the  Lord:  therefore  deliver  yourself 
in  this  to  the  guiding  of  his  Providence.  The  great  secret  of  a  happy 
choice  may  be  given  in  a  single  sentence:  it  consists  in  uniting  the 
taste  and  the  judgment  equally  in  the  selection.  Let  the  former  be 
the  active  power,  going  forward  in  the  choice;  and  let  the  latter  be 
the  satisfying  power,  indorsing  or  else  vetoing,  as  the  case  may  be. 
If  both  are  satisfied,  there  is  not  much  danger  of  forming  a  connexion 
that  will  be  regretted  hereafter.  But  I  must  close  these  sentences  so 
imitative  of  the  Proverbs  of  Solomon.    Adieu. 

"Most  afiFectionately, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

"I  shall  not  come  to  Anderson  in  May,  as  you  are  not  to  be  ordained. 
I  prefer  to  reserve  my  visit  until  such  time  as  that  event  shall  take 
place.  Perhaps  I  shall  hit  your  marriage  at  the  same  time." 

Mr.  Palmer  entertained  at  his  home  many  persons  whom 
he  there  bettered ;  and  he  met  in  a  social  way  many  more  upon 
whom  he  put  a  helpful  impress.  During  his  residence  in  Co- 
lumbia he  was  on  terms  of  intimacy  with  many  of  the  public 
men  of  the  State,  the  governors,  the  judiciary,  and  the  mem- 
bers of  the  legislatures.  On  the  fly  leaf  of  a  volume  of  Cal- 
houn's works,  which  may  be  seen  yet  amongst  Dr.  Palmer's 
books  in  his  old  study  in  the  home  of  Prof.  John  W.  Caldwell, 
the  loiterer  reads  the  inscription: 

"Rev.  Benjamin  M.  Palmer,  with  the  Y-espects  of  J.  H. 
Means."    J.  H.  Means  was  governor  of  the  State. 

During  this  pastorate  Mr.  Palmer  was  a  member  of  a  literary 
society,  made  up  of  the  most  cultivated  and  refined  citizens 
of  the  town.  In  his  later  life  he  was  often  heard  to  speak 
of  the  lavish  entertainments  given  in  connection  with  their 
meetings.  It  can  hardly  be  doubted  that  he  was  a  valued 
member  of  this  society.  Few  of  his  fellows  could  have  equaled 
him  in  brilliancy,  urbanity  and  charm  of  manner. 

During  his  Columbia  pastorate  Mr..  Palmer  received  numer- 
ous calls:  He  was  called  to  the  Second  Presb)rterian  Church, 
Baltimore,  in  1846.  He  favored  accepting  the  call,  but  was 
withstood  successfully  by  his  church  and  congregation  before 
Charleston  Presbytery.  He  was  disposed  to  accept  the  over- 
tures of  the  Glebe  Street  Church,  of  Charleston,  S.  C,  in  1852, 
to  become  its  pastor.  The  session  of  that  church  adopted  a 
noble  course  toward  the  session  of  the  church  in  Columbia. 
The  minutes  of  the  latter  tell  us  that,  a  "courteous  letter  was 
received  from  the  session  of  the  Glebe  Street  Church  at  Charles- 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  147 

ton,  addressed  to  the  session  of  this  church,  informing  them 
of  their  intention,  to  apply  to  Presbytery  in  order  to  procure 
the  services  of  our  pastor,  the  Rev.  B.  M.  Palmer.  Said  letter 
was  duly  considered,  without  the  knowledge  and  in  the  ab- 
sence of  the  pastor;  and  the  clerk  was  directed  to  prepare  a 
reply,  setting  forth  their  determined  opposition  to  the  prose- 
cution of  said  call,  and  the  hope  that  the  session  of  the  Glebe 
Street  Church  would,  at  once,  arrest,  or  desist  from  any 
further  proceedings  in  the  matter."  *  In  this  same  year,  185^, 
he  received  a  call  to  Cincinnati.  Of  circumstances  attending 
this  call,  Mr.  Bazile  Edward  Lanneau  writes  to  his  mother, 
March  20,  1852 : 

"The  Cincinnatians  are  very  sanguine,  but  I  think  he  (Mr.  Palmer) 
is  now  much  more  staggered  by  the  difficulties  in  the  way  and  the  oppo- 
sition at  home,  than  he  was  at  first  He  made  a  statement  of  the 
posture  of  affairs  to  the  congregation  on  Sabbath  week,  which  led  to 
a  meeting  yesterday  for  the  appointment  of  a  committee  to  memorialize 
Presbytery,  and  the  appointment  of  a  commissioner  in  behalf  of  the 
congregation.  I  do  hope  that  Presbytery  will  have  no  hesitation  in 
putting  their  veto  upon  it.  Dr.  Thomwell  is  strongly  opposed  to  his 
going,  but  may  be  prevented  from  attending  Presbytery,  as  may  also 
Dr.  Leland." 

He  was  called  to  Philadelphia  in  the  year  1853,  and  was 
not  a  little  moved  towards  accepting  that  call.  He  had  been  a 
member  of  the  General  Assembly  sitting  in  that  city  in  the 
spring  of  1853,  was  honored  by  the  Assembly  and  brethren  of 
his  faith  generally  in  the  city.  Hence,  perhaps,  in  part,  his 
inclination  to  go.  •  In  the  same  year  he  was  elected  lo  the 
chair  of  Hebrew  in  Danville  (Ky.)  Theological  Seminary. 
This  he  refused  without  much  difficulty.  He  never  betrays 
considerable  leanings  toward  the  professorial  life.  In  1854, 
he  was  again  called  to  Cincinnati.  Mr.  Bazile  Edward  Lanneau 
writes  his  mother,  January  28,  1854: 

"You  will,  by  this  time,  have  heard  the  news  of  Cousin  Ben's  Cin- 
cinnati call,  announced,  I  see,  in  the  Watchman  and  Observer  (Rich- 

•  Records  First  Presbyterian  Church,  Columbia,  S.  C,  Jan.  31,  1852. 

•According  to  Mr.  Alfred  Lanneau,  Charleston,  S.  C,  the  calls  for 
Mr.  Palmer's  services  in  the  Northern  Churches  led  the  Southern 
commissioners  to  the  Assembly  in  1853,  in  a  meeting  called  for  the  pur- 
pose, to  express  their  unanimous  opinion  that  he  should  not  leave  the 
South. 


148       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

mond),  with  (I  think)  just  comment.  An  emissary  arrived  last  week, 
followed  him  to  Barnwell  and  is,  I  suppose,  now  on  his  return.  Dr. 
McGill  is  at  the  bottom  of  it.  I  have  as  yet  had  no  opportunity  of 
conversing  with  him  about  it,  and  have  no  idea  how  he  will  regard  it 
Just  now  he  is  more  in  a  condition  to  be  influenced  by  a  call  abroad 
than  usual,  owing  to  his  feeling  of  embarrassment  in  reference  to  the 
Seminary.  Still  I  think  Cincinnati  will  scarcely  have  the  attractions, 
either  of  inclination  or  duty,  which  Philadelphia  had,  viewed  in  the 
radiance  of  the  Assembly  of  1853.  I  do  hope  Providence  will  settle 
him  and  the  Seminary  (shall  I  not  say  in  the  Seminary?)  before  long." 

This  call,  from  the  Central  Church  of  Cincinnati,  was  pre- 
sented and  urged  with  great  ability  by  the  commissioners 
from  that  church,  before  the  Presbytery  which  met  at  Or?inge- 
burg,  S.  C,  ill  1854.  The  churdi  at  Columbia  resisted  the 
proposed  removal  of  their  pastor,  appearing  before  the  Pres- 
bytery by  a  special  delegate  who  fulfilled  his  trust  in  a  man- 
ner highly  gratifying  to  those  whom  he  represented.  The  dis- 
cussion, although  protracted  nearly  two  days,  was  conducted 
with  marked  courtesy  and  in  a  Christian  spirit.  The  result 
may  be  learned  from  the  following  resolutions  which  were 
adopted  without  a  dissenting  voice : 

"The  Presbytery  having  carefully  considered  the  call  of  the  Central 
Church  of  the  City  of  Cincinnati  for  the  services  of  the  Rev.  Dr. 
Palmer  and  weighed  the  reasons  both  for  his  translation  and  for  his 
continuance  in  his  present  location,  do  hereby  resolve :  First,  that  while 
we  are  impressed  with  the  importance  of  the  Central  Church  in  the  City 
of  Cincinnati,  whose  call  was  so  ably  urged  by  the  commissioners  before 
us,  we  feel  ourselves  unable  to  place  the  call  of  that  church  in  the  hands 
of  Dr.  Palmer  or  release  him  from  his  present  charge  with  a  view  of 
his  translation  to  that  church  and  Presbytery. 

"Second,  That  in  coming  to  that  result,  we  are  influenced  by  no 
considerations  of  sectional  prejudice.  We  acknowledge  in  all  its  fulness 
that  the  church  and  all  her  interests  are  one ;  but  in  the  Providence  of 
God,  our  brother  is  so  connected  with  the  great  interests  of  this  portion 
of  the  church  that  we  regard  his  continuance  here  as  highly  important 
to  t^e  best  interests  of  the  Redeemer's  kingdom,  and  our  interpretation 
of  the  Divine  will  is  in  accordance  with  this  belief." 

He  received  calls  to  several  other  churches,  during  his  period 
at  Cplumbia.  He  received,  in  1855,  a  very  important  one  to 
New  Orleans;  but  of  that  somewhat  shall  be  said  in  the  next 

chapt.er.. 

In  1854  Mr.  Palmer  suffered  himself  to  be  made  Professor 

of  Ecclesiastical  History  and  Polity  in  Columbia  Seminary. 


The  Pastor  at  Columbia,  S.  C.  149 

This  made  necessary,  after  a  time,  his  release  from  his  connec- 
tion with  his  old  charge  in  Columbia.  His  church  and  congre- 
gation could  not  look  for  help  from  either  Presbytery  or 
Synod  for  aid  to  prevent  his  making  this  change. 

Mrs.  Palmer  knew  her  husband  well  enough  to  be  able  to 
utter  a  prophecy  which  was  soon  fulfilled.  To  the  advocates  of 
his  transfer  to  the  professorship  she  said:  "You  will  soon 
lose  both  pastor  and  professor.  Your  new  made  professor 
must  be  a  pastor ;  you  have,  in  taking  him  out  of  this  church, 
made  it  inevitable  that  he  shall  soon  accept  a  call  to  another 
church." 

In  November,  1852,  Oglethorpe  University,  at  Milledge- 
ville,  Ga.,  had  conferred  on  Mr.  Palmer  the  degree  of  Doctor 
of  Divinity. 


CHAPTER  IX. 

PROFESSOR  IX  COLUMBIA  SEMINARY. 

(1854-1856.) 

Columbia  Seminary  in  1855. — Dr.  Palmer's  Previous  Services  there 
AS  Lecturer  and  Teacher. — His  Years  of  Professedly  Profes- 
sorial Service. — Hi§  Success  as  a  Professor. — The  Call  from 
THE  First  Presbyterian  Church  in  New  Orleans. — His  Convic- 
tion THAT  He  should  be  a  Pastor  and  the  Grounds  for  that 
Conviction. — Leave  from  Seminary  and  Synod  to  go  to  New  Or- 
leans.— Some  Incidental  Services  During  this  Period  :  That  of 
Christian  Comforter;  and  the  Part  He  took  in  the  Installa- 
tion OF  HIS  Father  as  Pastor  of  Stony  Creek  and  Walter- 
BORO. —  His  Transition  to  a  New  Sphere. 

COLUMBIA  SEMINARY  had  been  doing  a  useful  work 
from  the  day  of  her  founding.  In  the  year  1854,  she  had 
worthy  men  in  her  professorate,  in  Drs.  George  Howe  and 
A.  W.  Leland.  But  she  was  not  measuring  up  to  the  demands 
of  her  friends.  At  that  epoch  there  was  a  general  advance  in 
theological  education.  Princeton,  Union  Seminary,  in  Virginia, 
and  Alleghany  Seminary,  had  all  been  strengthened  by  the  ad- 
dition to  their  faculties  of  men  of  power.  The  Danville  Sem- 
inary, in  Kentucky,  had  been  created  the  year  before,  with  all 
the  intellectual  force  in  its  faculty  which  the  West  could  com- 
mand. If  Columbia  was  to  maintain  herself  as  a  competitor 
of  these  institutions,  it  behooved  her  to  equip  herself  with  a  full 
corps  of  instructors.  In  the  words  of  Dr.  Thomwell,  "Things 
had  reached  a  crisis  and  something  vigorous  was  to  be  done, 
or  the  seminary  virtually  abandoned.  It  was  ascertained  that 
if  things  remained  another  year  as  they  were,  the  next  session 
would,  in  all  likelihood,  open  with  the  merest  handful  of  stu- 
dents, not  more  than  six  or  eight.  The  Board  determined  to 
propose  a  measure  which,  it  was  thought,  would  remove  these 
grounds  of  complaint.  They  nominated  me  for  the  chair  of 
theology,  and  Palmer  for  that  of  history."  This  well  digested 
plan  of  the  Board  was  carried  through  at  the  annual  meetings 
of  the  Synods  of  South  Carolina  and  Georgia,  in  November, 
1854.  During  the  session  of  1853-4,  Dr.  Palmer  had  served  the 
seminary  as   Provisional  Instructor  in  Ecclesiastical  History 


T  FREIBYTEKIAN  CHURCH.  NEW  ORLIANS.  LA. 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  151 

and  Polity.  He  had  given  sufficient  promise  of  distinguished 
service  to  the  seminary  to  make  some  of  its  friends  very  anx- 
ious lest  he  should  be  enticed,  before  the  work  of  the  Board 
could  be  ratified,  to  some  other  quarter  of  our  Church's  terri- 
tory. The  Rev.  J.  B.  Adger  seems  to  have  been  amongst  the 
anxious  ones,  as.  the  following  letter  shows : 


'Columbia,  S.  C,  September  4,  1854. 

'Dear  Brother:  Your  favor  of  the  31st  of  August  came  to  hand 
by  this  evening's  mail,  and  spurs  my  half  formed  resolution  which  for 
days  I  have  entertained  of  writing  you. 

*The  statement  in  the  Watchman  and  Observer,  to  which  you  refer, 
attracted  my  attention  at  the  time,  as  an  instance  of  that  idle  gossip 
which  creeps  into  our  public  journals,  and  which  one  knows  not  how 
to  contradict.  I  know  not  who  the  writer  is,  but  the  statement  is  ut- 
terly without  foundation  so  far  as  respects  myself.  The  allusion  must 
have  been  to  the  Augusta  call;  but  that  call  was  declined  by  me  abso- 
lutely before  the  meeting  of  the  Board.  I  have  had  no  overtures  from 
any  quarter  since  you  were  in  G>lumbia,  and  I  am  meditating  no  change 
of  field  whatever.  In  regard  to  Brother  Thornwell,  I  am  tmable  to 
answer  your  queries.  He  has  been  away  since  the  first  of  August, 
and  I  have  received  no  letter  from  him.  In  my  late  conversation  with 
him,  his  mind  was  greatly  perplexed.  He  doubtless  has  misgivings 
upon  several  points  connected  with  the  question  of  his  transfer  to  the 
Seminary— doubtful  whether  the  number  of  candidates  for  the  ministry 
in  the  South  is  sufficient  to  warrant  that  increase  in  the  Seminary 
which  will  justify  his  removal  from  the  College;  and  doubtful  whether 
the  cheapness  of  living  at  Danville  as  compared  with  Columbia,  will 
not  decide  the  question  with  many  to  go  to  the  former  place,  who  might 
be  expected  to  come  here;  and  doubtful,  in  the  most  favorable  cir- 
cumstances,  whether  he  may  not  do  more  for  God  and  the  truth  in  his 
present  position.  I  think,  however,  he  had  not  at  all  drawn  back  from 
the  ground  on  which  he  stood,  when  you  saw  him  last  During  his 
travels,  he  has  doubtless  been  thrown  amongst  those  who  are  warmly 
attached  to  him,  and  who  will  oppose  his  resignation  of  the  presidency. 
What  effect,  if  any,  their  representations  and  solicitations  may  have 
with  him  I  have  no  means  of  knowing.  As  you  say.  the  suggestion  of 
.the  Board  seems  to  be  the  only  alternative  before  the  Synod;  yet  I 
cannot  anticipate  its  consummation  without  pain.  We  give  up  a  great 
deal  in  taking  Thornwell  from  the  College;  and  nothing  but  the  stern- 
est necessity  justifies  the  sacrifice;  yet  that  necessity,  so  far  as  I  can 
see,  does  really  exist.  As  to  myself,  I  shall  feel  thankful  to  God  if  He 
shall  turn  the  mind  of  the  brethren  at  Synod  to  the  choice  of  another, 
as  was  the  case  last  year.  My  own  judgment  and  inclination  are  de- 
cidedly against  it — ^much  more  so  than  last  year.  And  I  do  not  hesitate 
to  say,  if  the  question  was  the  same  as  last  year,  to  elect  me  alone,  I 


152       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

should  instantly  refuse:  to  serve.  G>nstituted  as  the  Seminary  now  is, 
without  an  able  man  in  the  Theological  Chair,  I  could  not  entertain 
the  thought  for  a  moment;  and  if  a  really  able  man,  say  Dr.  Thorn- 
well  himself,  was  now  the  professor  of  Theology,  I  should  not  feel 
that  the  Seminary  was  in  such  extreme  distress  as  to  require  on  my 
part  the  sacrifice  of  interest,  of  taste,  and  of  feeling.  But  it  is  to  se- 
cure Brother  Thornwell  to  the  Seminary  as  the  teacher  of  theology, 
and  for  this  alone,  that  I  have  gained  my  own  consent  to  be  wholly 
passive  and  allow  the  Synod  to  dispose  of  me  as  they  see  fit.  If  the 
vote  divides  upon  Brother  Thornwell,  or  he  fails  to  serve,  leaving  the 
Seminary  as  it  now  stands,  I  shall  not  go  into  the  chair  of  history — for 
as  long  as  the  students  are  dissatisfied  with  the  instruction  received  in 
theology,  nothing  can  raise  the  institution.  If  the  matter  is  submitted 
to  me,  after  all  that  has  occurred,  my  way  is  abundantly  clear  to  abide 
by  the  office  of  Pastor — for  the  way  has  been  as  singularly  open  to 
me  to  remain  in  the  pulpit,  as  it  has  been  closed  to  my  going  into  a 
professorship.  This  fact  joined  with  another  that  I  have  a  decided 
love  for  preaching,  and  never  one  antecedent  wish  to  exchange  this  for 
any  other  species  of  labor,  would  be  conclusive,  if  I  were  to  trust  in 
my  own  judgment.  I  wish  the  Seminary  to  prosper — ^and  to  this  pros- 
perity, the  services  of  Brother  Thornwell  seem  to  me  to  be  necessary — 
and  therefore  I  am  willing  to  occupy  the  subordinate  part  which  I 
do  in  this  business.  The  Seminary  being  safe,  I  would  be  glad  if  the 
plan  of  the  Board  touching  myself  should  fail.  If  it  succeeds,  I  shall 
go  into  the  institution  without  that  glow  of  feeling  which  springs 
from  the  gratification  of  one's  spontaneous  and  original  choice. 

''I  am  rejoiced  to  hear  the  good  news  concerning  Mr,  and  Mrs. 
Pelham,  and  will  seek  them  out  very  soon.  Present  me  most  kindly  to 
your  good  wife,  and  believe  me 

"Your  most  truly, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

The  foregoing  letter  makes  it  clear  that  its  author  was 
being  dragged  off  his  pulpit  throne;  that  he  was  unwilling  to 
set  his  single  judgment  against  that  of  his  brethren;  but  that 
all  his  inclinations  and  all  his  motives  were  toward  his  teach- 
ing from  the  pulpit  men  and  women  in  the  sap  and  juice  of 
life,  in  a  wrestle  with  the  world.  A  little  later  he  wrote  again 
to  Mr.  Adger,  disclosing  a  similar  attitude  toward  seminary 
work,  a  desire  to  take  measures  to  secure  Mr.  Adger's  election 
in  his  place,  and  disclosing  also  the  heavy  burdens  he  was  bear- 
ing at  the  time. 

Columbia,  S.  C,  October  13,  1854. 
''My  Dear  Brother:  I  do  not  know  why  I  have  taken  up  the  pen, 
unless  it  is  to  exchange  salutations  with  you.     Dr.  Howe  handed  me 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  153 

your  letter  addressed  to  him,  in  which  you  invite  an  opinion  from  me 
respecting  the  appointment  to  the  Presidency  of  Davidson  College. 
Briefly,  I  would  say  that  the  G>llege  must,  I  think,  ultimately  prosper, 
though  for  a  long  time  it  will  be  labor  under  embarrassments.  It  is 
an  infant  institution,  has  scarcely  the  furnishing  requisite  for  a  college, 
labors  under  a  low  standard  of  scholarship  which  the  local  public 
opinion  too  much  justifies,  and  has  a  corps  of  teachers  scarcely  such 
as  you  or  I  would  select.  The  worst  of  all  is  an  old  and  open  feud 
between  two  distinct  parties  among  the  trustees  and  patrons  of  the 
college  itself.  When  I  add  to  these  things,  the  trouble  and  responsi- 
bility of  managing  a  body  of  students,  and  the  necessity  of  taking  the 
whole  institution  upon  your  shoulders,  in  order  to  lift  it  from  the 
dust  into  something  like  respectability,  I  am  sure  you  will  not  find 
the  situation  a  sinecure.  Nevertheless,  I  know  no  man  so  sure  of 
success  in  this  difficult  undertaking  as  yourself,  and  I  fully  justify  the 
wisdom  of  your  appointment.  But,  my  dear  brother,  if  you  have  the 
least  inclination  for  scholastic  life,  why  not  take  the  professorship  of 
History  in  the  Seminary?  You  will  be  nearer  the  great  heart  of  the 
Church,  will  have  associates  whom  you  cherish,  and  preserve  all  the 
ties  social,  domestic  and  public  which  bind  you  here.  As  to  eyes,  you 
will  have  to  study  in  either  position;  and  though  the  range  of  investi- 
gation is  certainly  wider  in  the  Seminary,  yet  this  is  fairly  counter- 
balanced by  the  greatec  anxieties  of  the  other  position.  Anxiety  sends 
the  blood  to  the  head  full  as  much  as  study;  and  the  one  place  has 
scarcely  the  advantage  over  the  other,  all  things  considered,  when  it 
comes  to  eyes.  You  do  not  know  with  what  real  relief  of  feeling  I 
would  nominate  you  to  Synod  in  my  place.  I  have  not  one  lurking 
desire  for  the  chair,  and  only  consented  to  be  passive  under  the  nom- 
ination, hoping  thereby  to  secure  Brother  Thomwell  to  the  Seminary. 
You  will  be  fully  as^acceptable  to  him  as  myself,  and  I  am  sure  much 
mor(  acceptable  to  the  Synod;  as  I  am  sure  the  same  feeling  exists, 
as  last  year,  as  to  my  relations  to  the  pulpit.  Pray  think  of  this  matter ; 
and  if  possible,  do  nbt  decide  in  favor  of  Davidson  till  after  meeting 
of  Synod. 

"I  have  just  returned  from  the  meeting  of  the  Seceder  Synod,  where 
Brother  Banks  and  myself  were  very  kindly  received;  and  perhaps  as 
much  was  accomplished  as  could  be  reasonably  anticipated  at  the  outset. 
A  similar  deputation  was  appointed  to  attend  our  Synod,  and  a  com- 
mittee raised  to  confer  with  any  similar  committee  on  our  side.  I  was 
gratified  to  find  nearly  all  the  leading  members  anxious  for  the  pro- 
posed union;  but  the  body  as  a  whole,  and  especially  the  members  of 
the  church  at  large,  are  scarcely  prepared  yet  for  such  a  result.  I  hope 
we  will  be  patient  and  forbearing,  as  far  as  becomes  a  proper  Chris- 
tian self-respect;  and  if  no  more,  intercommunion  between  the  two 
branches  will  be  effected. 

"You  will  be  sorry  to  learn  that  Dr.  Howe  is  laid  up  with  a  serious 


154       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

attack  of  erysipelas.  His  face  is  exceedingly  swollen  and  he  suffers 
greatly.  As  it  is  taken  promptly  in  hand,  it  is  hoped  he  will  not  be 
confined  long.  Dr.  Leland  still  suffers  with  his  arm  from  the  fall, 
of  which  you  have  doubtless  heard. 

"I  have  not  seen  Brother  Thomwell  for  two  weeks.  He  is  busy  at 
the  College,  and  I  at  the  Seminary.  You  do  not  know  how  hard  I  work, 
ten  hours  a  day,  and  that  scarcely  keeps  me  up  with  a  daily  exercise 
with  my  classes.  I  have  undertaken  the  Herculean  task  of  lecturing 
systematically  upon  the  whole  course  of  Church  History  in  connection 
with  the  text-book,  in  order  to  gfive  the  philosophical  and  real  con- 
nections. To  one  ignorant  as  myself  it  is  a  task  scarcely  inferior  to 
taking  the  Alps  on  my  shoulders — Church  History  in  its  totality  is 
bigger  than  the  Alps.  I  am  not  as  much  discouraged  as  yourself  in 
reference  to  Thornwell's  transfer — the  opposition  in  South  Carolina 
Presbytery  is  more  noisy  than  general,  so  far  as  I  can  learn.  Bethel 
is  unanimous,  or  nearly  so — ^and  I  hear  of  no  resistance  in  Harmony  ex- 
cept from  Brother  Coit  The  most  discouraging  feature  is,  that 
Brother  Thornwell  does  not  himself  particularly  desire  the  change. 
He  consents,  if  the  Synod  so  wishes;  but  that  is  all.  However,  I 
still  wish  and  hope.  Brumby's  plan  of  putting  me  into  that  chair  must 
not  be  thought  of.  But  my  sheet  is  out.  If  I  am  at  Synod,  I  shall  lay 
aside  all  delicacy,  and  advocate  warmly  Thomweirs  appointment  on 
grounds  I  have  not  yet  heard  mentioned;  and  will  be  most  happy  if 
you  will  consent  to  be  coupled  with  him  in  the  nomination.  With 
kindest  salutations  to  Mrs.  Adger  and  all  of  your  household,  from  all 
here.  Most  affectionately, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

Formally  elected  as  professor  in  1854,  Dr.  Palmer  most 
earnestly  strove  to  acquit  himself  nobly  bpth  as  pastor  and 
as  professor.  It  has  already  appeared  that  his  ideals  of  minis- 
terial duty  were  very  high.  His  ideals  of  duty  in  his  profes- 
sorship were  equally  lofty.  He  craved  nothing  less  than 
philosophical  scholarship  and  the  ability  to  beget  it  in  his  stu- 
dents. Tradition  says  that  he  had  a  long  working  day  through 
this  session, — ^thirteen,  fourteen,  fifteen  hours  out  of  the  twen- 
ty-four, according  to  his  need.  The  double  burden  was  too 
great  to  be  carried  according  to  his  ideals ;  and  he  came  peril- 
ously near  making  shipwreck  of  his  health. 

He  was  a  success  as  a  teacher.  This  is  evident  from  certain 
remains  of  his  lectures.  One  of  these  lectures  he  published 
in  the  Southern  Presbyterian  Review,  April,  1856..  The  sub- 
ject was,  "The  Import  of  Hebrew  History."  The  reader  can 
see  in  this  paper  proof  of  Dr.  Palmer's  ability  to  deal  with  his- 
toric movements  in  a  profoundly  philosophic  way,  and  in  a 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  155 

style,  as  regards  structure  and  diction,  scarcely  less  splendid 
then  Macaulay's.  His  abilities  as  teacher  are  testified  to  by 
many  of  his  students  also ;  from  these  it  is  also  learned,  how- 
ever, that  he  did  not,  in  the  brief  period  during  which  he  gave 
himself  to  teaching,  develop  such  extraordinary  adaptedness  to 
that  form  of  service  as  to  preaching.  Thus  the  Rev.  Prof.  W. 
T.  Hall,  now  of  Columbia  Seminary,  who  sat  as  a  student  under 
Dr.  Palmer  during  the  session  of  1855-1856,  writes: 

"One  session  hardly  affords  opportunity  for  estimating  the  capacity 
of  a  teacher;  and  a  class  of  juniors  may  not  be  the  best  of  judges. 
Dr.  Palmer's  own  opinion  was  that  his  proper  sphere  was  the  pulpit: 
and  none  of  us  was  disposed  to  call  his  opinion  in  question.  Not  that 
he  was  by  any  means  a  failure  in  the  class  room;  but  for  the  reason 
that  he  was  a  prince  in  the  pulpit.  In  fact  he  was  easily  the  best  teacher 
we  Jiad  until  Dr.  Thomwell  came  in,  about  the  middle  of  the  session. 
We  understood  that  he  was  offered  a  chair  in  Princeton  Seminary 
about  the  time  he  left  Columbia.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  he  would 
have  made  a  great  reputation,  and  have  been  a  pillar  in  the  Seminary, 
if  he  had  chosen  to  devote  his  life  to  teaching.  In  one  respect  he 
certainly  had  no  superior.  I  refer  to  his  personal  influence  on  the 
students.  His  Christian  character  was  one  of  his  strong  spints.  I 
never  knew  a  Christian  whose  'walk*  was  more  worthy  of  the  'voca- 
tion.' Students  were  impressed  by  the  strong,  healthy  type  of  his 
piety;  and  consulted  him  in  their  spiritual  conflicts.  He  was  also  a 
model  of  industry.  Report  credited  him  with  fifteen  hours  given  to 
study  out  of  the  twenty-four.  He  was  then  laying  the  foundation  for 
his  long  and  successful  ministry." 

As  a  teacher  he  certainly  was  not  wanting  in  the  analytical 
faculty,  nor  in  the  power  of  luminous  statement,  nor  of  logical 
reasoning,  but  as  a  teacher  he  had  less  use  for  some  of  his  pre- 
eminent gifts,  for  he  was  above  all  things  a  woAderful  word 
painter,  a  past-master  in  the  art  of  description,  and  a  magician 
in  dealing  with  the  sentiments  of  the  human  heart,  particularly 
the  pathetic.  The  seminary  professor  should  never  forget 
that  the  heart  of  the  student  demands  his  attention  as  well  as 
the  head,  but  his  concern  is  chiefly  with  the  head;  he  is  to 
impart  knowledge  to  one  already  earnestly  Christian.  He 
hardly  has  time  or  scope  for  the  exercise  of  the  peculiar  gifts 
which  made  Palmer  so  easily  the  master  of  great  popular  as- 
semblies, hence  Dr.  Palmer  felt  that  he  was  not  in  his  true 
sphere  when  in  the  class  room. 

In  the  fall  of   1855  his  connection  with  the  Presbyterian 


156       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Church  in  Columbia,  as  pastor,  was  broken,  the  people  reluc- 
tantly giving  him  up.  He  continued,  at  their  request,  to  serve 
them  as  stated  supply  till  the  end  of  December,  1855.  They 
would  have  had  him  unite  with  Dr.  Thornwell  in  jointly  sup- 
plying their  pulpit  thereafter,  but  he  preferred  (o  wean  the 
people  at  Columbia  from  him.  As  he  had  to  have  a  preaching 
place,  he  complied  with  the  request  of  the  Presbyterian  Church 
at  Orangeburg,  S.  C,  to  fill  their  pulpit  from  Sabbath  to  Sab- 
bath, during  the  year  1856. 

Meanwhile  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  New  Orleans 
had  been  making  powerful  efforts  to  secure  him  as  its  pastor. 
In  company  with  his  friend  Adger  he  had,  as  has  been  seen, 
visited  New  Orleans  in  the  early  part  of  1855,  soliciting  sub- 
scriptions to  endow  a  chair  in  Columbia  Seminary.  The  pulpit 
of  the  First  Church  was  vacant  at  that  time,  Dr.  Scott  having 
resigned  and  removed  to  San  Francisco.  On  the  morning  of 
their  first  Sunday  in  the  city.  Dr.  Adger  preached  to  the  people 
of  the  First  Church,  and  Dr.  Palmer,  the  younger  man,  at  the 
Prytania  Street  Church.  They  exchanged  pulpits  in  the  even- 
ing. In  the  interim  between  morning  and  evening  service, 
the  people  who  had  been  in  the  Prytania  Street  Church  were 
talking  enthusiastically  about  the  little  gentleman,  the  wonder- 
ful preacher  who  had  spoken  to  them.  That  evening  the  people 
of  the  First  Church  flocked  to  hear  Dr.  Palmer  preach;  and 
were  captivated  by  his  bearing  and  eloquent  discourse.  They 
were  "struck  with  his  graceful  action  and  his  beautiful,  soul- 
stirring  diction."  "The  speaker  seemed  lifted  so  high  by  his 
illustrations,  by  his  grand  images"  that  at  times  they  "feared 
he  would  never  be  able  to  get  down  from  the  heights  without 
a  tumble,  or  at  least  a  stumble ;"  but  he  would  "come  swooping 
down  with  all  the  grace  with  which  he  went  up"  and  stand 
there  on  the  platform  a  simple,  humble  man.  The  matter  of  his 
discourse  seemed  no  less  excellent,  didactically  rich  and  emo- 
tionally and  spiritually  quickening.  On  the  next  Sabbath  he 
seems  to  have  preached  again  to  these  people,  and  to  have  so 
preached  that  his  message  burned  itself  indelibly  into  the  mem- 
ories of  his  hearers.  In  the  month  of  September  following, 
they  gave  him  a  unanimous  call  to  be  their  pastor.  He  would 
gladly  have  accepted  it  but  was  retained  by  his  Presbytery, 
which  resolved,  "That  after  weighing  carefully  the  claims  of 
the  First  Church  of  the  city  of  New  Orleans,  for  the  pastoral 
labors  of  the  Rev.  B.  M.  Palmer,  D.D.,  as  earnestly  and  elo- 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  157 

quently  set  forth  by  their  commissioners,  who  have  appeared 
before  this  body,  we  find  ourselves  unable  to  place  this  call  in 
his  hands,  because  Dr.  Palmer's  labors  as  professor  in  the 
Theological  Seminary  are  indispensable  to  the  prosperity  of 
that  institution,  and  because  we  must  not  contravene  the  wishes, 
nor  defeat  the  action  of  the  Synod,  our  higher  judicatory, 
which  has  unanimously  placed  him  in  that  office."  The  com- 
missioners from  New  Orleans,  Messrs.  J.  M.  Picton  and  J.  A. 
Mabin,  at  once  gave  notice  of  complaint  to  the  Synod,  and  the 
next  day  read  a  statement  of  their  grounds  of  complaint,  under 
the  following  heads: 

"First.  Because  the  election  of  Dr.  Palmer,  by  that  church  and  con- 
gregation, to  become  its  pastor,  was  unanimous;  their  attention  being 
exclusively  directed  to  him  through  a  period  of  several  months. 

"Second,  Because  New  Orleans  is  a  most  important  field  of  labor, 
eminently  requiring  the  services  of  Dr.   Palmer  in  it. 

"Third.  Because  the  interests  of  our  own  church  would  be  greatly 
promoted  by  the  services  of  Dr.  Palmer  in  that  city. 

"Fourth.  Because  the  interests  of  the  Church  of  Christ  generally 
require  the  services  of  Dr.  Palmer  in  New  Orleans. 

"Fifth.  Because  a  number  of  members  of  Evangelical  Churches  in 
New  Orleans  express  their  earnest  wish  that  Dr.  Palmer  should  labor 
there. 

"Sixth.  Because  the  talents  and  attainments  of  Dr.  Palmer  are 
peculiarly  adapted  to  that  place. 

"Seventh.  Because  the  interests  of  the  Theological  Seminary  of  the 
Synods  of  South  Carolina  and  Georgia  would  not  be  injured  by  the 
removal  of  Dr.  Palmer  from  the  Chair  of  Church  History  and  Polity, 
to  which  he  has  been  elected  to  become  the  pastor  in  New  Orleans 
of  said  Church  and  congregation.  But  on  the  contrary  the  said  inter- 
ests would  be  promoted. 

"Eighth.  Because  the  arrangements  that  have  been  made  respecting 
Dr.  Palmer's  filling  the  Chair  of  Church  History  and  Polity  in  said 
Seminary,  present  no  obstacle  or  impediment  to  the  removal  of  Dr. 
Palmer  to  New  Orleans  as  the  pastor  aforesaid. 

"Ninth.  Because  Dr.  Palmer  is  under  no  pledge  of  any  kind  or  na- 
ture, either  to  the  Seminary  or  to  its  contributors,  or  others,  to  pre- 
vent his  accepting  of  said  call. 

"Tenth.  Because  Dr.  Palmer  considers  himself  under  no  pledge  of 
any  kind  or  nature,  either  to  the  Seminary  or  to  its  contributors,  or 
others,  to  prevent  his  acceptance  of  said  call. 

"Eleventh.  Because  Dr.  Palmer  is  willing  to  accept  the  said  call 
to  become  the  pastor  of  said  Church  and  congregation,  from  personal 
observation  of  that  field  of  labor,  and  from  a  strong  conviction  of  his 
greater  adaptedness  to  the  pulpit  than  to  a  professor's  chair. 


158       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"Twelfth.  Because  this  call  to  Dr.  Palmer  is  superior  in  its  claims 
to  any  previously  presented  to  him,  both  on  account  of  the  natural 
affiliations  of  the  Southern  and  Southwestern  States,  and  on  account 
of  the  relation  of  New  Orleans  to  the  vast  Missionary  territory  be- 
yond it."* 

For  these  reasons,  the  commissioners  prayed  the  Synod  of 
South  Carolina  to  receive  their  complaint,  and  take  the  con- 
stitutional measures  to  secure  the  reversal  of  the  decision 
of  the  Presbytery  of  Charleston,  complained  of. 

These  commissioners  were  reinforced  in  their  complaint 
by  a  complaint  on  somewhat  similar  grounds  by  those  members 
of  the  Presbytery,  all  ruling  elders,  constituting  the  minor- 
ity in  opposition  to  the  Presbytery's  resolution.  When  the 
Synod  of  South  Carolina  met,  early  in  November,  the  com- 
plainants were  represented  by  Mr.  R.  C.  Gilchrist,  of  Charles- 
ton, one  of  those  elders.  Drs.  Howe  and  Adger  represented 
the  Presbytery  of  Charleston.  Much  time  was  given  to  the 
discussion,  with  the  result  that  the  Synod  refused  to  sustain 
the  complaint  by  a  vote  of  sixty-three  to  nine.  South  Carolina 
could  not  easily  give  up  her  Palmer  to  New  Orleans.  The 
First  Church  of  New  Orleans  had  made  a  determined  as  well 
as  unanimous  call.    The  result  was  a  staggering  refusal. 

The  people  of  that  church  next  turned  their  attention  to  Rev. 
Nathan  L.  Rice,  D.D.  They  gave  him  a  call  December  16, 
1855.  Failing  in  this  direction,  and  remembering  Dr.  Palmer's 
own  imperfectly  veiled  desire  to  come  to  them,  and  learning 
that  other  churches  were  trying  to  move  him  from  Columbia 
Seminary,  they  repeated  their  call  March  16,  1856. 

Meanwhile  the  conviction  had  been  growing  in  his  mind 
that  he  should  be  a  pastor  and  not  a  seminary  professor.  The 
conviction  had  been  growing,  too,  that  his  work  was  in  New 
Orleans.  He  was  fast  reaching  that  state  of  certainty  about 
the  matter  that  he  was  prepared  to  decide  the  question  on 
his  own  responsibility,  once  he  had  the  bare  consent  of  the 
controlling  powers.  These  assertions  are  borne  out  by  the 
following  letters ;  and  though  the  letters  contain  much  matter 
besides  the  parts  strictly  pertinent  to  the  subject  under  hand, 
they  are  presented  entire,  as  bringing  forth  in  salient  fashion 
certain  traits  of  the  gentleman  whose  life  and  character  it  is 
the  purpose  of  this  work  to  portray. 

*  Minutes  of  Presbytery  of  Charleston,  Oct.,  1855. 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  159 

"Columbia,  S.  C,  June  i,  1856. 

"Dear  Brother  Adger:  Your  reproachful  note  came  to  hand  last 
evening,  and  filled  me  with  surprise.  At  first  I  was  amused,  and 
thought  how  admirably  you  had  succeeded  in  what  the  children  some- 
times call  'making-beiieve/  But  a  second  perusal  satisfied  me  that  you 
were  serious;  and  then  I  felt  a  momentary  resentment  that  you  should 
allow  yourself  to  cherish  suspicions  that  were  unworthy  of  you  and  un- 
just to  me,  and  at  the  brusque  manner  in  which  you  have  uttered  them. 
Then  I  thought,  surely  it  must  be  only  the  nervous  irritability  of  a 
man  convalescing,  and  a  return  to  health  will  restore  his  feelings 
to  a  normal  condition  again.  There  seem  to  be  two  counts  in  the  indict- 
ment against  me:  first,  that  I  did  not  answer  your  letter  written  some 
time  ago;  and  second,  that  I  have  addressed  no  word  of  sympathy 
to  you  in  all  the  sickness  and  suffering  you  have  passed  through.  As 
to  the  first,  I  plead  guilty  at  once;  and  if  you  have  never  without  de- 
sign laid  aside  the  letter  of  a  friend,  and  postponed  a  reply  till  finally 
it  has  slipped  from  your  mind,  then  you  may  blame  me  as  freely  as  you 
desire,  and  I  will  meekly  bear  it  as  the  punishment  of  my  fault.  I 
did  receive  your  letter  requesting  an  account  of  the  emeute  in  the 
College,  which  was  a  long  story,  and  asking  some  questions  about  the 
time  of  Presbytery's  meeting,  which  I  was  unable  to  answer.  Being 
at  that  time  occupied  in  a  vexatious  correspondence,  I  simply  put  off 
a  reply  until  a  convenient  moment.  Then  came  several  absences  from 
home  at  Charleston  and  Savannah,  until  it  was  forgotten.  If  I  had 
supposed  any  practical  decision  of  yours  was  suspended  upon  an  answer, 
it  would  have  been  given  as  much  in  the  way  of  business  as  of  friend- 
ship—but this  I  did  not  realize.  I  am  at  best  an  irregular  and  delin- 
quent correspondent,  and  do  not  even  in  a  twelvemonth  write  a  letter 
simply  of  friendship  to  any  one:  I  have  but  once  written  during  six 
months  to  my  father,  and  that  simply  to  announce  the  birth  of  a  child. 
This  is  the  history  of  that  omission:  let  it  be  accepted  at  what  it  is 
worth.  The  point  in  it  valuable  to  you,  is,  that  it  was  accidental  and 
undesigned. 

"As  to  the  second  charge,  I  have  only  to  say  that  I  did  not  hear  of 
your  sickness  until  I  heard  you  were  better;  so  that  I  can  scarcely 
be  said  to  have  felt  anxious  about  your  condition.  Occasionally  I 
heard  that  you  were  still  improving;  and  supposed  you  were  a  well 
man  long  ago.  It  was  not  till  the  other  day,  upon  accidentally  meeting 
with  your  brother  Robert  on  his  return  from  Pendleton,  that  I  learned 
the  lingering  character  of  your  sickness,  and  that  you  were  still  feeble. 
I  had  supposed  it  was  an  acute  attack,  which  early  passed  its  crisis, 
placing  you  very  -^oon  beyond  the  sympathy  and  condolence  of  your 
friends.  Now,,  my  brother,  all  this  is  a  slender  basis  upon  which  to 
erect  such  a  huge  superstructure  of  suspicion  and  reproach  as  that 
of  which  your  imagination  has  been  the  architect. 

I  am  prepared  then  to  return  categorical  answers  to  your  two  sol- 


i6o       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

emn  questions.  To  the  first,  'Have  I  offended  you?'  I  answer,  No, 
neither  by  word  nor  deed.  I  have  never  dreamed  that  you  were  not 
entirely  my  friend ;  and  every  gesture  atid  tone  of  yours  I  have  recog- 
nized as  those  of  a  kind  Christian  brother.  To  the  second  question, 
*Have  you  forgotten  me,  and  have  I  become  as  nothing  to  you?'  I 
simply  reply  that  outside  the  circle  of  my  kindred,  my  heart  is  knit 
to  no  two  men  in  South  Carolina  as  to  Thornwell  and  yourself,  linked 
together  as  you  both  are  in  all  my  associations,  par  nobile  fratrum. 
And  outside  of  the  circle  of  your  kindred,  you  shall  find  no  one  in 
South  Carolina,  or  out  of  it,  who  rises  superior  to  me  in  the  admiration 
and  respect  he  feels  for  your  talents  and  for  your  character,  for  your 
qualities  both  of  mind  and  heart;  and  no  one  who  exceeds  me  in  that 
deep  and  quiet  affection  which  has  its  root  in  an  unbounded  confidence 
and  Christian  esteem.  And  no  man  has  ever  defended  you  with  more 
enthusiasm  from  the  charge  of  abruptness  and  dogmatism  by  adverting 
to  the  sterling  qualities  out  of  which  these  appearances  seem  sometimes 
to  spring.  Will  this  now  suffice?  Ordinarily,  I  could  not  bring  my- 
self to  say  thus  much  to  your  face,  lest  you  should  denounce  me  as 
a  toady ;  but  I  say  it  now  freely,  because  the  occasion  calls  for  it,  and 
you  have  challenged  it  by  your  interrogatories.  It  is  proof  enough 
of  my  sincere  regard  for  you,  that  I  have  occupied  a  sheet  in  my  de- 
fence; for  I  do  not  know  a  half  dozen  men  in  the  world  to  whom  I 
would  pen  such  an  exculpatory  letter  as  this.  Away  then  forever  with 
these  unpleasant  suspicions,  which  have  nothing  to  rest  upon  but  what 
is  negative;  and  let  the  mantle  of  Charity  cover  omissions  and  delin- 
quencies of  correspondence — and  permit  me  to  feel,  as  I  have  always 
hitherto  felt,  that  you  were  a  friend  with  whom  it  was  not  necessary 
to  stand  upon  points,  but  with  whom  all  needful  things  could  be  taken 
for  granted. 

"As  to  the  New  Orleans  matter,  that  will  push  me  over  to  another 
sheet:  and  here  I  am  persuaded  is  the  real  ground  of  your  suspicion 
and  doubt  of  me-^since  in  the  renewed  negotiations  on  that  subject 
I  have  not  conferred  with  you:  a  shyness,  which  you  have  interpreted 
into  alienation.  A  word  on  this  point.  I  have  conferred  neither  with 
you,  nor  with  anyone  else,  because  I  already  know  the  contents  of 
your  mind  and  of  the  minds  of  all  around  me  on  this  matter;  and 
there  was  nothing  more  to  learn — because,  I  was  in  full  possession 
of  all  the  points  of  the  case  on  all  sides,  and  in  all  aspects  of  it;  and 
because  I  felt  that  at  last,  in  the  present  posture  of  things,  upon  myself 
alone,  upon  myself  unaided  except  from  above,  must  rest  the  entire 
responsibility  and  pain  of  a  decision.  The  time  had  come  to  ask 
counsel  alone  of  God,  and  to  disenthrall  myself  (Tf  those  influences 
arising  from  private  friendship  and  domestic  ease  which  would  only 
make  it  more  difficult  to  do  right  The  time  had  come  for  me  to  con- 
fer not  with  flesh  and  blood — in  spirit  at  least,  to  forsake  father  and 
mother,  wife  and  children,  and  to  ask  God  what  I  should  do,  with 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  i6i 

the  determination  to  follow  conscience  and  duty  at  every  sacrifice  of 
feeling  that  might  be  involved.  To  ask  counsel  of  men,  at  this  junc- 
ture, would  only  have  been  imbecility.  Perhaps,  too»  I  have  been  shy, 
at  this  crisis,  from  a  constitutional  weakness  which  makes  me  shrink 
from  witnessing  pain  inflicted  upon  others.  I  cannot  stand  by  and  see 
a  tooth  pulled,  or  a  child's  gum  cut — much  less,  is  it  easy  to  speak 
the  words  that  grieve  and  afflict  friends  whom  I  love.  Then  it  is  that 
with  all  my  natural  communicateness,  I  shrink  instinctively  within 
my  shell,  and  suffer  more  pain  myself  in  being  the  occasion  of  pain 
and  disappointment  to  others  than  it  is  possible  for  them  to  feel  in 
the  direct  experience  of  the  same. 

"The  rumors  that  have  reached  you  are  correct.  I  have  made  up  my 
mind  to  resign  at  the  approaching  meeting  of  the  Board,  with  a  view 
to  accept  the  New  Orleans  call,  if  it  shall  be  placed  in  my  hands  by 
the  Presbytery.  With  the  renewal  of  this  call  I  have  had  no  concern, 
and  was  taken  as  much  by  surprise  as  anyone  else.  Now  that  it  has 
come,  I  must  meet  it.  Had  I  been  consulted.  I  should  have  resisted 
and  refused  all  concurrence,  as  I  have  done  in  •several  other  cases  since 
November;  feeling  bound  by  my  acquiescence  in  the  decision  of  Synod. 
The  considerations  which  have  controlled  my  decision  are  briefly 
these: 

"i.  It  is  clear  the  Church  at  large  does  not  acquiesce  in  my  with- 
drawal from  the  pulpit.  Since  November  I  have  been  engaged  in  a 
laborious  and  annoying  correspondence  to  frustrate  and  prevent  calls 
from  five  churches  in  as  many  different  cities,  and  without  success 
in  two  of  the  five.  What  am  I  to  make  of  these  signs  of  acceptance 
as  a  preacher,  just  at  the  moment  when  I  am  ceasing  to  be  one? 

"2.  Add  to  this  my  own  growing  conviction  that  the  pastoral  work 
is  the  work  for  which  alone,  I  am  in  a  degree,  fit;  and  in  which  all 
my  tastes,  natural  and  acquired,  lie — and  that,  on  the  other  hand, 
academic  life  does  not  suit  me,  as  I  have  neither  the  taste  nor  the 
learning  for  it,  and  as  a  professor  am  only  a  wretched  sham. 

"3.  The  actual  and  admitted  importance  of  the  New  Orleans  field, 
in  itself  considered,  and  in  relation  to  the  outlying  territory — and  the 
difficulty  in  securing  a  supply  of  it,  arising  from  the  perils  and  risks 
incurred  through  a  removal  to  that  city. 

"4.  The  fact  that  I  feel  committed  in  honor,  by  all  that  has  passed, 
to  go  to  New  Orleans  if  I  leave  the  Seminary  at  all,  prevents  me 
from  considering  other  overtures;  which  yet  will  be  pressed,  so  soon 
as  this  is  disposed  of. 

"5.  It  is  certain  or  nearly  so  that  the  Presbytery  will  put  the  call 
into  my  hand  when  it  shall  be  prosecuted:  and  the  desire  is  strongly 
felt  by  most  of  the  brethren  that  they  should  be  relieved  from  tlie 
delicacy  of  their  position  by  my  assumption  of  the  entire  responsibility. 

"6.  The  Constitution  of  the  Seminary  requiring  a  six  months  notice 
of  resignation,  I  must. take  the  initiative  at  this  meeting  of  the  Board. 
II 


i62       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"7.  It  is  but  right  the  Electors  should  have  time  to  think  and  confer, 
before  they  are  precipitated  upon  a  ballot  for  my  successor. 

"8.  I  would  have  preferred  to  be  entirely  passive  until  the  Presby- 
tery should  have  taken  action,  and  with  great  reluctance  do  I  take  a 
step  in  advance  of  their  action;  but  now  that  the  complications  of  the 
case,  and  the  interests  represented  on  both  sides,  require  a  decision 
by  me,  I  cannot,  consistently  with  my  own  repeated  declarations  nor 
with  the  suggestions  of  my  own  conscience,  decide  to  remain  in  the 
Seminary  and  to  abandon  the  pastorate.  I  must  therefore  decide  to 
go  to  New  Orleans. 

"I  am  deeply,  convinced  of  the  importance  of  the  Professorship  of 
History  in  the  Seminary;  and  my  own  sense  of  unfitness  for  its  duties 
is  a  leading  element  in  my  decision — ^and  I  am  too  old  to  begin  at 
the  beginning  of  an  Encyclopsdic  Department,  and  go  through  all  the 
drudgery  of  microscopic  investigation,  to  be  fit  for  an  office  which  I 
must  vacate  by  death  as  soon  as  the  qualifications  for  it  have  been 
attained.  I  prefer  to  abide  in  the  work  to  which  I  am  trained,  and  in 
relation  to  which  I  have  at  least  measured  my  strength.  Nor  am  I 
insensible  to  the  pain  T  must  both  give  and  feel  in  the  rupture  of  my 
established  and  endeared  relations,  and  I  dread  the  months  before  me, 
almost  as  I  dread  death  itself.  I  am  alive  to  all  the  risks  I  incur  in 
going  among  a  strange  people,  and  in  stemming  other  currents  of 
thought  and  feeling  than  those  I  am  accustomed  to.  I  have  surveyed 
all  the  perils  as  to  life  of  myself  and  family  from  an  unfriendly  climate ; 
and  I  know  nothing  in  all  this  but  to  trust  God  with  an  entireness  of 
consecration  to  his  service.  I  have  striven  to  search  my  own  heart 
to  learn  the  motives  which  influence:  I  am  conscious  only  of  a  desire 
to  follow  God's  will,  to  do  good  to  man,  and  to  glorify  Him  in  whose 
service  I  am  etilisted.  If  at  last  I  am  mistaken,  lean  only  throw  my- 
self for  pardon  and  salvation  upon  Him  who  is  infinitely  merciful 
through  Christ  Jesus  to  the  guilty  and  the  erring.  I  have  gone  through 
a  sea  of  mental  suffering,  such  as  I  never  felt  before ;  and  it  is  a  com- 
fort to  me  that  'all  things  are  naked  and  open  to  the  eyes  of  Him  with 
whom  we  have  to  do.' 

"Yours  very  truly, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

"I  rejoice  that  you  are  so  rapidly  improving,  and  hope  you  will  soon 
be  perfectly  restored.  You  will,  I  trust,  be  able  to  come  down  to  the 
Board,  the  last  of  June.    Salute  Mrs.  Adger  and  the  children  for  us  all." 

"G)LUMBiA,  S.  C,  June  10,  1856. 

"Dear  Brother  Adger:  I  am  glad  that  the  personal  portion  of  my 
letter  to  you  has  proved  satisfactory;  for  it  would  have  distressed  me 
to  know  that  you  were  permanently  estranged,  as  the  loss  of  your 
friendship  would  be  to  me  a  sore  trial  and  calamity.  Let  that  then 
all  pass  forever. 

"As  to  the  protest  you  have  entered  on  record  against  my  decision  in 


Professor  in  CoLUMBi>i- 'Seminary.  163 

relation  to  New  Orleans,  you  need  be  under  no  apprehension  that  I  will 
consider  it  either  'brusque/  'dogmatic*  or  '^brti^t.'  I  understand  thor- 
oughly the  earnestness  of  your  nature,  to  which  great  strength  of  con- 
viction and  tenacity  of  purpose  necessarily  belong;  and  I  am  very  far 
from  taking  unkindly  any  plainness,  or  even  severity  of  speech,  neces- 
sary to  the  articulate  utterance  of  your  views.  The  die  is  however  now 
cast,  and  has  therefore  got  beyond  the  reach  of  discussion.  If  the  de- 
cision is  erroneous,  no  one  will  pray  more  fervently  than  myself  that 
God  may  yet,  in  his  providence,  control  and  reverse  it,  or  at  least  over- 
rule it  to  his  own  glory.  But  I  have  reached  it  very  patiently  and  pain- 
fully; and  my  mind  rests  in  it  with  very  tolerable  satisfaction.  If  I 
had  been  requested  to  concur  in  raising  the  question  anew,  I  would  have 
refused,  as  I  did  persistently  in  every  application  that  has  been  made 
since  November.  Having  yielded  to  the  decision,  of  the  Synod,  I  woul4 
have  no  agency  in  the  reopening  of  the  subject.  But  when  it  was 
opened  without  my  concurrence  and  against  my  desire,  I  was  compelled 
to  look  at  it  as  a  new  record  on  a  new  leaf  in  the  book  of  Divine  Prov- 
idence. If  I  have  taken  a  step  in  advance  of  the  action  of  the  Presby- 
tery, it  was  with  felt  and  expressed  reluctance,  as  compelled  thereto  by 
two  complications  of  the  case,  and  to  relieve  others  of  a  responsibility 
which  they  wished  not  to  assume  any  longer.  I  have  weighed  every 
step  thoughtfully  and  prayerfully ;  and  my  conviction  is  strong  and  clear 
that  I  ought  to  be  a  pastor  and  not  a  professor.  I  have  desired  and 
labored  to  act  in  the  whole  case  with  a  good  conscience  before  God 
and  my  brethren,  and  I  must  bide  the  judgment  of  both. 

"Let  me  say  distinctly  that  I  neither  deny,  nor  override  the  rights 
of  the  Presbytery.  They  have  full  jurisdiction  over  the  case:  and  if 
they  feel  disposed  to  exercise  their  power  to  arrest  the  call,  I  shall  not 
murmur,  but  submit.  I  shall  then  have  reached  the  end  of  my  rope 
in  my  efforts  to  follow  out  what  I  conceive  to  be  the  leadings  of  Prov- 
idence, and  to  act  upon  the  convictions  of  my  own  mind.  t 

"A  word  upon  the  implied  breach  of  faith  to  Brother  Thornwell. 
My  consent  to  go  into  the  Seminary  with  him  was  given  by  me  with- 
out due  consideration,  and  when  my  own  mind  had  not  worked  itself 
out  to  any  clear  conviction  on  the  subject.  If  God,  in  the  unfoldings 
of  his  providence,  has  connected  together  a  chain  of  events  which  seems 
to  reprove  that  decision,  and  lead  me  to  feel  that  I  have  been  brought 
into  a  false  and  wrong  position,  I  think  the  course  of  true  Christian 
honor  is  for  me  to  say  frankly  to  him  and  to  you  and  to  all,  that  I  erred, 
through  ignorance  and  a  fallible  judgment,  in.  giving  that  consent,  and 
must  retrace  my  steps.  It  is  not  a  question  simply  of  personal  sacrifice, 
but  of  high  Christian  duty;  a  question  simply  of  interpretation  as  to 
what  is  the  will  of  Thorn  well's  Master  and  my  Master.  I  love  Thorn- 
well  dearly,  and  delight  to  do  homage  to  his  genius.  I  would  willingly 
walk  through  life  under  his  shadow,  and  contribute  to  his  usefulness 
and  comfort.    But  from  motives  of  human  friendship,  or  from  a  cow- 


164       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

ardly  fear  of  reproach  from  mere  men  like  myself,  to  turn  aside  from 
the  path  of  duty  and  from  obedience  to  God,  cannot  be  thought  of,  no, 
not  for  a  moment.  I  freely  admit  the  possibility  of  mistake  in  the 
determination  of  duty — but  with  a  conscientious  desire  to  ascertain  it, 
with  a  careful  use  of  all  the  means  to  know  it,  and  with  fervent  prayer 
to  God  for  guidance  and  light,  I  do  not  see  what  remains  but  to  rest 
in  our  convictions  of  duty,  as  being  duty  itself. 

''But  it  is  tedious  to  discuss  all  these  things  with  the  pen.  I  hope  you 
will  be  sufficiently  recovered  to  attend  the  meeting  of  the  Board  on  the 
24th  inst.  and  then  we  can  talk  it  over  from  the  end  to  the  beginning. 
As  long  as  the  matter  remains  inchoate.  Providence  can  arrest  it  at 
any  stage ;  and  I  am  sure  that  I  am  willing  to  be  controlled  by  that  high 
and  sovereign  Will  which  I  desire  above  all  things  to  obey. 

"With  Christian  salutations  to  Mrs.  Adger  and  to  all  of  your  house- 
hold, I  am,  dear  brother, 

"Yours  as  ever, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

When  the  Board  of  Directors  of  the  Seminary  met  June 
24,  1856,  they  received  a  letter  from  Dr.  Palmer  resigning  his 
professorship,  whereupon  they  adopted  the  following  minute: 

"The  Board  cannot  consistently,  with  a  sense  of  duty,  present  to 
the  Synod  the  resignation  of  the  Rev.  Dr.  Palmer,  without  expressing 
its  regret  that  he  should  feel  it  his  duty  to  resign  his  chair  in  this  insti- 
tution. The  interests  of  the  Seminary  seem  to  demand  his  continuance 
in  his  office,  and  the  reasons  which  he  assigns  for  resigning  have  all 
been  deliberately  considered,  both  by  the  Presbytery  to  which  he  belongs 
and  by  this  Synod;  and  so  far  from  producing  in  his  brethren  the 
conviction  entertained  by  himself,  they  have  had  precisely  the  opposite 
effect.  We  believe  that  he  is  eminently  qualified  for  the  chair,  which 
his  letter  shows  he  so  highly  appreciates,  and  we  cannot  but  feel  that 
the  confidence  of  the  Giurch  in  the  stability  of  our  plans  and  the  perma- 
nence of  our  measures  will  be  seriously  affected,  if  we  permit  an  ar- 
rangement so  auspiciously  begun  to  be  interrupted  before  it  reaches 
the  point  of  completion.  The  Seminary  never  needed  more  than  at 
present  all  that  can  give  it  efficiency  and  vigor.  Many  of  the  prominent 
churches  of  the  South  are  either  vacant  or  inadequately  supplied,  and 
the  very  pressure  upon  Dr.  Palmer  from  all  quarters  for  his  services, 
shows  the  urgency  of  the  call  for  a  thoroughly  educated  ministry. 
Our  Seminary  must  be  put  into  a  condition  with  the  blessing  of  God, 
to  supply  this  demand.  This  is  the  place  in  which  Dr.  Palmer  can 
most  effectually  aid  in  relieving  this  great  destitution.  If  he  is  per- 
mitted to  leave,  the  insecurity  attached  to  our  organization  will  cripple 
the  Seminary,  by  sending  to  other  and  less  fickle  institutions  the  young 
men  who  might  have  been  prepared  for  our  own  field.  The  question 
before  the  Synod  is  simply  the  question  concerning  the  importance  of 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  165 

the  Seminary.    The  necessity  of  its  prosperity  and  success  is  the  neces- 
sity of  refusing  this  resignation."  ■ 

The  Board  of  Directors  furthermore  resolved  to  meet  at 
Chesterville,  during  the  next  meeting  of  the  Synod  of  South 
Carolina,  for  the  purpose  of  inaugurating  Dr.  Palmer ;  and  that 
he  "be  requested  to  deliver  an  address  before  that  body."  This 
seemed  to  bode  ill  for  his  plan  to  go  to  New  Orleans. 

When  the  Presbytery  of  Charleston  met,  instead  of  doing  as 
he  hoped,  it  referred  the  question  as  to  whether  the  call  from 
New  Orleans  should  be  put  into  his  hands  to  the  Synod  of 
South  Carolina.  When  tiie  Synod  met,  a  few  weeks  later,  it 
took  up  the  Reference,  spent  two  afternoon  sessions  in  dealing 
with  it, — ^hearing  pertinent  parts  of  the  records  and  the  papers 
sent  by  the  commissioners  of  the  New  Orleans  Church,  hearing 
Dr.  Palmer  himself  and  speakers  in  favor  of  or  in  opposition 
to,  instructing  the  Presb3rtery  of  Charleston  to  put  the  call 
into  his  hands.  At  a  late  hour,  a  vote  on  a  Tesolution  instruct- 
ing the  Presbytery  "to  put  the  call  from  the  First  Presbyterian 
Church,  New  Orleans"  into  his  hands,  was  taken  by  calling  the 
roll,  and  resulted  as  follows:  Sixty-seven  in  the  affirmative, 
and  thirty-two  in  the  negative. 

On  the  next  day  Dr.  Palmer,  whcJ  was  Stated  Qerk,  "offered 
his  resignation  of  the  office,  in  view  of  his  probable  removal," 
which  was  accepted.  At  a  later  meeting  the  following  minute 
was  unanimously  adopted  and  ordered  to  be  placed  upon  the 
records : 

"Whereas,  our  beloved  brother,  the  Rev.  Dr.  Palmer,  has  felt  con- 
strained, by  a  severe  conviction  of  duty,  to  resign  his  professorship  in 
our  Seminary,  and  to  transfer  his  relation  to  a  different  Synod,  we  de- 
sire to  place  upon  our  Minutes  an  enduring  testimony  of  our  high 
appreciation  of  his  character  and  usefulness,  and  our  deep  regret  at 
the  disruption  of  the  endearing  ties  which  have  so  long  united  us, 
and  our  ardent  wishes  and  fervent  prayers  that  he  may  prove  a  rich 
and  lasting  blessing  to  his  future  field  of  labor. 

"Deploring,  as  we  must  continue  to  do,  the  lamented  removal  of  this 
bright  and  shining  light  in  which  we  have  so  greatly  rejoiced,  our  grief 
is  assuaged  by  the  anticipation  of  the  radiance  it  will  diffuse  in  that 
wide  and  interesting  region  to  which  his  labors  are  to  be  transferred. 

"In  our  separation  from  a  brother  so  greatly  beloved,  the  members 
of  this  body  feel  painfully  the  severe  bereavement  sustained  by  our 
Seminary,  in  the  loss  of  one  so  richly  endowed  with  those  rare  and 

'  Minutes  of  the  Synod  of  South  Carolina,  Appendix  pp.  43  and  44. 


i66       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

precious  gifts  so  invaluable  to  the  training  of  our  rising  ministry. 
In  this  mysterious  dispensation,  our  mourning  hearts  bow  in  humble 
submission  to  the  Divine  will. 

"As  we  are  well  assured  that  our  brother  has  been  governed  by  a 
sense  of  imperative  duty  in  adopting  a  course  which  involves  so  great 
sacrifices,  and  causes  so  much  pain  to  many  dear  friends,  it  is  incum- 
bent on  us  to  cheer  and  comfort  him  in  his  noble  act  of  self -consecra- 
tion*. We  doubt  not  that  he  can  adopt  the  sublime  language  of  the 
Apostle  and  say,  'None  of  these  things  move  me,  neither  count  I  my 
life  dear  unto  myself,  so  that  I  may  finish  my  course  with  joy,  and  the 
ministry  which  I  have  received  of  the  Lord  Jesus  to  testify  the  Gospel 
of  the  grace  of  God.*  Deeply  sympathizing  with  this  beloved  brother, 
our  hearts  should  glow  with  devout  gratitude,  that  one  of  ourselves, 
a  pupil  of  our  own  Seminary,  is  made  capable  by  grace  of  so  glorious 
a  destiny,  is  enriched  and  ennobled  with  a  faith  so  Apostolic  and 
invincible. 

"Convinced,  by  no  doubtful  indications,  that  the  Lord  hath  need  of 
him  in  another  sphere  of  usefulness,  and  therefore  calls  him  away,  it 
becomes  the  duty  of  this  Synod,  though  with  sorrowing  hearts,  to  bid 
him  depart  and  fulfill  this  high  commission.  It  is  our  parting  testi- 
mony, that  he  has  nobly  filled  every  department  of  duty  and  labor  in 
which  he  has  been  engaged  with  us.  Long  and  affectionately  shall  we 
remember  the  energy  and  efficiency  with  which  he  has  accomplished 
his  full  orbed  ministry  among  ourselves.  And  now,  as  he  is  entering 
an  untried  portion  of  the  harvest  field,  our  warmest  affections  accom- 
pany him.  In  every  peril  and  difficulty,  may  the  angel  of  the  covenant 
preserve  and  comfort  him!  May  his  life  and  health  be  graciously 
continued  for  many  years;  and  may  his  labors  be  crowned  with  special 
manifestations  of  the  Divine  favor;  so  that  having  served  the  Church 
faithfully,  and  turned  many  to  righteousness,  he  may  shine  at  last  as 
the  stars  forever  and  ever."  * 

Thus  nobly  did  the  noble  Synod  of  South  Carolina  dis- 
miss one  of  her  noblest  sons,  whom  she  had  so  longed  to 
keep,  to  his  great  field  of  the  Southwest. 

Till  December  he  continued  his  services  in  the  seminary 
and  in  the  pulpit  in  Orangeburg.  From  the  sessional  records 
of  his  old  church  in  Columbia,  it  appears  that  the  session, 
November  17,  1856,  "unanimously  resolved  to  request  Dr. 
Palmer  to  preach  a  farewell  sermon  to  the  congregation  the 
next  Sabbath  morning.'' 

Meanwhile,  during  the  year  1856,  Dr.  Palmer  had  been 
engaged  not  only  in  these  professorial  and  pulpit  labors,  but 
had  carried  on  a  ministry  of  consolation  unrestricted  bv  the 


*  Minutes  of  the  Synod  of  South  Carolina,  November,  1856,  pp.  34,  35. 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  167 

limits  of  any  small  territory.  This  is  made  manifest  by  such 
letters  as  this  to  the  Rev.  Bazile  E.  Lanneau  on  the  death 
of  his  father,  Bazile  Lanneau: 

**G)LUMBiA,  S.  C,  October  9,  1856. 

"Dear  Bazile:  Wc  were  much  shocked  on  Monday  last  upon  taking 
a  Charleston  paper  for  Saturday  in  our  hands,  to  read  the  notice  of 
your  father's  death,  and  the  invitation  to  his  funeral.  Your  note, 
therefore,  of  Tuesday  did  not  take  us  aback  by  surprise,  as  it  otherwise 
would  have  done.  I  am  unable  just  now  to  write  you  as  I  would  like 
to  do,  having  a  painful  sore  upon  one  of  my  writing  fingers,  almost 
disabling  me  from  the  use  of  the  pen.  As  soon  as  I  can  write  freely 
I  will  try  to  pen  a  letter  to  your  dear  mother.  At  present  I  can  only 
express  the  deep  sorrow  we  feel  in  the  bereavement  which  makes  your 
home  so  desolate. 

"It  is  no  ordinary  affliction  to  lose  a  father  and  a  husband :  bringing 
along  with  the  loss  sustained  the  untying  of  one's  domestic  bonds — 
and  the  dissolution  of  home.  Indeed,  this  loss  extends  far  beyond  the 
family  circle;  and  the  whole  Christian  community  of  Charleston  will 
gather  as  mourners  by  your  side  and  grieve  for  the  loss  incurred  by 
the  Church  of  Christ  on  earth;  yet — 'Even  so.  Father,  for  so  it  seemed 
good  in  thy  sight.' 

"It  would  be  superfluous  to  exhort  any  of  you  to  patience  and  sub- 
mission, for  I  doubt  not  you  have  already  united  in  saying,  The  Lord 
gave  and  the  Lord  hath  taken  away :  Blessed  be  the  name  of  the  Lord.' 
While  nature  will  have  her  pangs  and  wring  her  tribute  of  tears  and 
grief,  you  have  still  so  many  materials  of  praise  and  song  that  you 
must  mingle  thanksgiving  and  mourning.  His  pure  life,  his  unstained 
character,  his  long  devotion  to  his  Master's  cause  and  Church,  his 
pious  counsels,  and  his  fervent  prayers,  his  faith  and  patience  and  hope 
— all  meeting  together  in  his  dying  moments :  all  these  will  be  objects 
of  memory  to  stay  your  sorrow  and  sustain  you  from  despondency 
and  gloom.  If,  too,  the  Church  below  has  lost,  the  Church  above  has 
gained.  It  is  only  a  transfer  from  one  to  the  other,  and  the  Church  is 
not  a  loser,  though  we  may  miss  him  much. 

"I  am  glad  to  hear  of  your  mother's  calmness  and  peace,  though  it 
does  not  surprise.  It  is  what  I  should  expect  of  her.  May  the  Com- 
forter draw  nigh  to  her  and  uphold  her  faith  with  abounding  consola- 
tions ! 

"Affectionately  yours, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

In  the  course  of  the  year  1856  he  took  part  in  the  installation 
of  his  father  as  pastor  of  the  Stony  Creek  Church  in  Beaufort 
District.  Of  the  incident  he  published,  in  the  Southern  Pres- 
byterian, though  not  over  his  own  name,  a  graceful  and  instruc- 


i68       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

tive  account  which,  with  one  or  two  unimportant  omissions,  is 
subjoined: 

"The  sermon  appointed  for  die  occasion  was  preached  by  the  Rev. 
B.  M.  Palmer,  son  of  die  pastor  elect ;  die  charge  to  the  pastor  was  de- 
livered by  the  Rev.  J.  L.  Kirkpatrick,  and  that  to  the  people  by  the 
Rev.  J.  L.  Girardeau.  In  addition  to  these  services  there  was  preaching 
on  Friday,  Saturday  and  Monday,  which  was  attended  by  large  and  at- 
tentive congregations.  The  exercises  were  held  at  McPhersonville, 
the  summer  quarters  of  the  congregation,  where  they  have  a  neat  house 
of  worship,  a  convenient  parsonage,  schools  and  other  appendages  of 
a  pleasant   Christian   commtmity. 

"The  Stony  Creek  Church  is  one  of  the  oldest  and  most  prosperous 
of  the  churches  in  the  seaboard  region  of  our  State.  Although  Pres- 
byterian in  its  doctrines  and  internal  structure,  and  supplied  by  minis- 
ters of  our  communion,  it  has  not,  tmtil  recently,  had  any  formal  con- 
nection with  any  Presbytery. 

"About  two  years  ago,  overtures  were  made  to  it  by  the  Charleston 
Presbytery  to  become  a  component  part  of  that  body,  which  were 
met  and  acceded  to  in  a  spirit  of  Christian  affection  and  confidence. 
Owing  to  its  former  position  of  independence,  the  above  was  the  first 
installation  service  held  in  the  church.  The  occasion  itself  was,  there- 
fore, one  of  more  than  ordinary  interest  We  trust  the  impression 
is  altogether  favorable. 

"At  the  time  the  church  came  into  union  with  the  Presbytery,  our 
esteemed  brother,  the  Rev.  J.  B.  Dunwody,  was  its  minister.  Soon 
after,  his  health  having  failed,  he  resigned  his  charge,  and  the  members 
of  the  congregation  found  their  hearts  turning  with  affectionate  desire 
to  the  Rev.  £.  Palmer,  who  had  in  former  times,  for  a  period  of  thir- 
teen years,  served  them  with  great  acceptance  in  the  Gospel  of  their 
Lord.  Him,  though  now  approaching  the  verge  of  three  score  and  ten 
years — ^an  age  when  most  men  are  unfit  for  active  labor,  when  most 
churches  shrink  from  calling  a  minister,  whether  fit  or  unfit  for  further 
work — they  invited  him  to  return  to  them,  to  live  with  them  while  life 
should  last,  and  die  and  be  buried  among  them  when  the  hour  shall 
come.  It  was  a  call  he  could  not  resist,  and  the  rare  spectacle  was 
presented  of  a  minister,  sixty-eight  years  of  age,  entering  as  if  anew 
upon  the  great  work  to  which  a  long  life  had  already  been  laboriously 
and  unremittedly  devoted. 

"Mr.  Palmer,  however,  retains  beyond  any  man  of  his  age  we  are 
acquainted  with  the  vigor  and  elasticity  of  body,  and  the  genial  warmth 
and  freshness  qf  temperment,  that  are  supposed  to  belong  exclusively 
to  youth.  His  term  of  service  in  the  new  sphere  may  yet,  through  a 
good  providence,  exceed  that  usually  allotted  to  men  who  enter  upon 
theirs  in  middle  life. 

"In  consequence  of  the  loss  by  immigration  the  congregation  of  whites 
is  not  as  large  at  Stony  Creek  Church  as  in  former  years.    There  has 


Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary.  169 

been,  however,  a  corresponding  increase  in  the  number  of  blacks;  and 
among  these  the  pastor  finds  a  wide  field  for  labor.  He  loves  to  preach 
the  blessed  Gospel  of  Christ  to  these  precious  souls,  who  claim  and 
receive  a  large  measure  of  his  time  and  strength.  May  his  labors  for 
the  spiritual  welfare  of  both  classes  be  abundantly  successful." 

We  have  now  followed  our  subject  through  the  preliminary 
and  preparatory  stages  of  his  life.  We  have  seen  him  through- 
out a  vigorous  and  prolonged  course  of  training.  He  has  de- 
veloped well  his  brain,  tongue,  and  pen,  and  all  his  splendid 
natural  endowments ;  and  so  fitted  himself  to  take  a  great  part 
in  the  life  of  a  great  city  and  a  vast  section.  He  was  to  become 
in  the  new  and  larger  arena  not  only  a  gjeat  religious  leader, 
but  in  epochal  movements  the  moral  and  political  mouthpiece 
of  the  city.  State,  and  section  of  his  adoption.  He  was  to  be 
the  leader  of  patriots,  "the  first  citizen  of  Louisiana."  He  was 
to  be  "the  public  conscience,"  on  moral  matters  the  mouthpiece 
of  God  unto  vast  multitudes  even  of  faiths  differing  widely 
from  his  own.  Still  he  was  to  tower  as  a  Qiristian  minister 
higher  than  in  any  other  role. 


CHAPTER  X. 

THE  ANTE-BELLUM  PERIOD  IN  NEW  ORLEANS. 

(December,  1856 — May,  1861.) 

The  Dr.  Pa|.mer  of  December,  1856. — ^The  New  Sphere  into  which 
He  went:  The  Southwest;  New  Orleans;  and  the  First  Pres- 
byterian Church. — The  Beginnings  in  His  New  Pastorate. — 
His  Work  as  a  Preacher  and  Teacher  during  this  Period.— 
His  Skill  in  Dealing  Individually  with  Men. — His  Work  as 
A  Pastor. — Bearing  as  a  Member  of  the  Session. — Care  of  the 
Negroes. — Efforts  to  Secure  the  Spread  of  Presbyterian  ism  in 
the  City. — Labors  in  Behalf  of  the  Church  at  Large. — Writ- 
ings.— Occasional  Sermons  and  Addresses. 

THE  man  who  left  Columbia,  S.  C,  in  early  December, 
1856,  to  become  the  pastor  of  the  First  Presbyter- 
ian Church,  was  a  striking  looking  man  to  a  close  observer. 
The  superficial  said,  "He  is  an  insignificant  looking  little  fel- 
low." He  was  rather  under  medium  height,  slender,  agile  as 
a  cat,  naturally  as  graceful  as  a  leopard,  simply  but  elegantly 
clad  from  his  dainty  little  foot  to  the  crown  of  his  head. 
His  abundant  dark  brown  hair,  cropped  just  below  the  ears, 
was  thrown  loosely  back  from  no  meanly  shaped  forehead. 
His  piercing  hazel  eyes  twinkled  as  he  gazed  penetratingly 
into  your  face.  His  nose  was  suggestive  of  discrimination, 
fastidiousness,  and  secretiveness ;  his  huge  mouth,  when  still, 
was  clamped  by  strong  jaws;  his  large  lips  were  very  mobile 
in  speech.  So  strong  was  his  chin  that  some  observers  were 
tempted  to  call  him  "dish-faced."  He  made  a  strong  impression 
of  alertness,  and  of  indefinite  reserve  power.  He  made  the 
impression  of  great  kindness  of  heart  and  unobtrusive  read- 
iness to  help  his  fellow  men,  whatever  their  relations. 

Even  to  the  shrewd  and  experienced  observer,  however, 
the  casket  in  this  case  hardly  appeared  to  be  an  adequate  adver- 
tisement of  the  jewel  within.  The  Presbyterians  of  New  Or- 
leans and  the  Southwest,  in  getting  Dr.  Palmer,  got  one  of 
the  first  minds,  and  perhaps  the  first  orator,  of  his  day,  in  the 
great  communion  to  which  he  belonged.  They  got  him  in 
his  early  prime.  He  had  passed  through  the  period  of  raw 
and  callow  youth  in  his  brief  pastorate  at  Savannah  and  in  the 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  171 

longer  one  at  Columbia.  Had  he  not  been  assiduous  in  the  cul- 
tivation of  his  talents  during  those  earlier  pastorates,  he  had 
not  been  the  man  he  was  when  he  entered  New  Orleans.  Per- 
haps he  had  never  entered  the  city  into  which  he  now  came. 
But  pastorates  and  professorship  had  been  extended  university 
and  seminary  courses  for  him.  He  had  given  his  splendid 
natural  powers  a  splendid  discipline.  He  had  applied  old  ac- 
quisitions, he  had  been  daily  adding  new  acquisitions  to  the  old, 
and  applying  and  testing  all.  He  was  near  to  forty,  thirty- 
eight, — but  the  period  of  achievement  was  just  to  begin. 

The  commissioners  from  the  First  Presbyterian  Church 
in  New  Orleans  had  pressed  the  fact  that  the  great  South- 
west, of  which  New  Orleans  was  the  metropolis,  needed  him 
there.  The  Southwest  did  need  him.  Newly  acquired  and  im- 
perial Texas  needed  him.  The  Indian  Territory,  Arkansas, 
Louisiana,  Mississippi,  Alabama  and  Tennessee  needed  him 
in  the  common  beating  heart  of  them  all.  They  were  all  in 
the  nascent  state  and  needed  such  a  man  in  New  Orleans  to 
help  mould  their  coming  civilizations  for  right  and  for  God. 
He  was  wonderfully  adapted  to  serve  them  in  his  new  post. 
Aside  from  his  commanding  gifts  and  acquirements,  he  was  a 
son  of  that  South  Carolina  who  had  had  so  large  a  hand  in 
mothering  all  the  States  just  named,  and  had  imposed  her  views 
on  manners  and  government,  so  widely  amongst  them.  When 
he  went  to  them,  he  simply  went  into  that  greater  South  Caro- 
lina,— went  amongst  people,  who  in  spite  of  very  considerable 
differences,  were  substantially  at  one  with  South  Carolina  in  re- 
gard to  social  and  civil  matters.  His  great  sphere  of  influence 
was  still  within  the  South  Carolina  belt.  Thus  by  the 
South  Carolina  spirit  and  character  as  well  as  by  his  singular 
and  extraordinary  endowments  he  was  most  happily  adapted 
to  labor  in  this  quarter. 

The  State  of  Louisiana,  as  indeed  some  of  the  others,  had 
not  a  little  in  its  civilization  to  differentiate  it  from  that  of 
South  Carolina.  It  had  been  settled  by  the  French  in  1682; 
and  for  upwards  of  four  score  years  the  French  gave  character 
to  its  civilization.  Between  1762  and  1766  the  territory  passed 
to  the  possession  of  Spain,  much  to  the  chagrin  of  the  colo- 
nists. During  the  last  three  and  a  quarter  decades  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  Spain  was  making  her  contribution  to  the 
civilization  already  established.  In  1801  the  country  was  re- 
troceded  to  France.    In  1803  the  United  States  purchased  the 


172       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

country,  together  with  the  whole  vast  territory  to  the  north- 
west and  lying  westward  from  the  Mississippi  River,  paying  to 
France  eighty  millions  of  francs  therefor.  Meanwhile  immi- 
grants had  been  coming  in  from  other  sources,  principally  Ger- 
man and  American;  and  after  the  purchase,  Americans  from 
the  New  England  and  the  Eastern  States,  and  especially  from 
the  Southern  States  flocked  into  the  land.  The  population  be- 
came cosmopolitan.  The  civilizations  of  the  Latin  European 
peoples  and  of  the  North  Europeans  were  brought  together, 
and  produced  a  type  not  exactly  paralleled  in  any  of  the  sister 
States.  The  Latin  civilization  in  both  French  and  Spanish 
forms  had  been  first  on  the  ground  and  long  remained  the  dom- 
inating factor.  It  furnished  the  code  of  laws,  a  modification 
and  adaptation  of  the  Code  Napoleon,  which  the  State  has 
retained  and  applies  down  to  this  day.  It  furnished  the  domi- 
nant religion  also,  in  Roman  Catholicism,  which  up  to  the  Am- 
erican purchase  was  the  established  j-elig^on.  In  these  partic- 
ulars are  found  differentiating  marks  of  Louisiana  civilization ; 
others  might  be  pointed  out.  The  Louisiana  type  of  Romanism 
had  never  been  fanatical,  it  is  true;  the  people  had  opposed, 
with  horror  and  defiance,  the  attempt  made  during  the  Spanish 
regime,  to  institute  the  Spanish  Inquisition  amongst  them ;  nor 
had  they  been  wanting  in  a  more  positive  sort  of  liberality. 
The  modified  Code  Napoleon  was  a  very  superior  system. 
The  peculiarities  of  the  Louisiana  civilization  demanded,  in- 
deed, of  the  minister  who  should  go  from  elsewhere  to  labor  in 
the  Delta  State,  no  small  tact  and  a  certain  generous  breadth 
of  sympathies.  These  Dr.  Palmer  possessed  in  an  unusual  de- 
gree. He  inherited  them  from  his  mother  and  from  his  mother 
State. 

Moreover,  in  his  possession  of  South  Carolina  courtesy, 
the  South  Carolina  sense  of  honor  in  its  noblest  and  Christian 
form,  the  South  Carolina  magnification  of  the  rights  of  the 
State,  and  the  South  Carolina  views  of  slavery,  he  was  pecu- 
liarly fitted  to  accomplish  a  great  work.  In  Louisiana,  with 
all  its  peculiarities,  he  was  still  within  the  zone  in  which  South 
Carolina  theories  prevailed. 

The  commercial  heart  of  the  Southwest  and  still  more  of 
Louisiana  was  New  Orleans,  where  the  people  of  his  faith 
had  risen  and,  like  the  man  in  the  Macedonian  vision  which 
Paul  saw,  had  cried,  "Come  over  and  help  us."  This  city  had 
been  founded  in  1718,  by  Jean  Baptiste  Lemoyne  de  Bienville, 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  173 

a  French  Canadian,  Governor  of  the  French  colony  which  in 
1699  had  been  planted  by  his  brother  D'Iberville  on  the  shores 
of  the  Gulf,  along  the  eastern  margin  of  the  Bay  of  Biloxi. 

The  colony  of  Biloxi  had  grown  but  slowly.  Bienville's 
new  colony  had  made  better  progress ;  and  in  1803,  when  the 
territory  passed  into  political  connection  with  the  United 
States,  its  population  numbered  10,000,  being  made  up  mostly 
of  French  Creoles  and  their  slaves.  The  influx  of  American 
immigrants  after  the  Purchase  was  very  great.  The  dream  of 
LaSalle,  that  by  commanding  the  Mississippi  River  Frenchmen 
might  command  the  commerce  of  China  which  he  supposed 
would  flow  down  the  newly  discovered  channel,  had  been  aban- 
doned ;  but  men  believed  in  the  vast  promise  of  New  Orleans. 
The  Sage  of  Monticello,  had  predicted  on  purchasing  Louis- 
iana, that  New  Orleans  would  become  "not  only  the  greatest 
commercial  city  in  America,  but  in  the  world;"  and  he  gave 
very  good  reasons  for  the  prediction.  He  pointed  out;  for  in- 
stance, that  it  was  the  natural  port  of  the  Mississippi  Valley, 
which  he  foresaw  was  to  become  "the  seat  of  a  gjeat  and  popu- 
lous empire,  and  that  all  the  varied  products  of  that  valley 
would  find  their  way  to  New  Orleans  by  a  thousand  streams ; 
while  in  the  South  lay  Mexico,  Cuba,  and  the  tropics."  ^  The 
city  sat  at  the  gateway  of  the  Continent  and  seemed  the  best 
place  to  handle  the  immense  trade  that  must  spring  up  between 
the  Mississippi  Valley  and  the  tropics  on  the  one  hand,  and 
Europe  on  the  other.  Between  1830  and  1840,  no  other  city 
in  the  United  States  kept  pace  with  this  one  in  growth.  When 
the  census  of  1840  was  taken,  it  was  found  to  be  the  fourth  city 
in  population,  exceeded  only  by  New  York,  Philadelphia  and 
Baltimore.  It  also  stood  "fourth  amongst  all  the  ports  of  the 
world,  with  only  London,  Liverpool  and  New  York  ahead." 
It  was  even  ahead  of  New  York  in  the  export  of  domestic 
products. 

The  prosperity  of  New  Orleans,  which  appeared  inevitable 
in  view  of  her  natural  advantages  received  three  mighty  blows : 
the  building  of  the  Erie  Canal  which  furnished  a  cheap  north- 
em  route  from  the  great  Northwest  to  the  Eastern  markets; 
the  invention  by  Stephenson  of  the  steam  locomotive,  and  the 
building  of  railways,  which  annihilated  the  supreme  importance 
of  water-ways  for  commercial  purposes ;  and  the  war  between 

*  Norman  Walker,  in  Richtor's  History  of  New  Orleans. 


1/4        Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

the  sections.  This  last,  coming  soon  after  Dr.  Palmer's  trans- 
lation to  New  Orleans,  gave  the  city  a  blow  so  terrific  that 
she  had  to  lay  her  foundations  of  business  prosperity  all  over 
again.  The  other  two  forces  had  been  put  into  operation  prior 
to  his  call  to  the  city.  But  their  potencies  had  been  fully  esti- 
mated neither  by  the  people  of  New  Orleans  themselves  nor 
by  others.  If  trade  with  the  Northwest  had  dropped  oif  the 
trade  in  the  South  and  Southwest  was  constantly  growing,  and 
so  fast  that  New  Orleans  became  increasingly  busy  and  pros- 
perous. The  decade  ending  at  the  outbreak  of  the  war  saw 
New  Orleans  enjoying  a  vast  commercial  prosperity,  canals  and 
trans-Appalachian  railways,  nevertheless.  More  than  half  the 
time  during  this  decade,  "it  exceeded  Manhattan  in  the  volume 
of  its  exports.'' 

Though  too  slow  in  securing  railroads,  and  thus  losing 
the  place  which,  in  view  of  her  natural  advantages,  should 
have  bfeen  hers;  though  suffering  and  to  suffer  until  Eads 
should  do  his  work  at  the  mouth  of  the  Mississippi  for  an  exit 
to  the  sea  of  sufficient  depth  for  vessels  of  the  heaviest 
draught,  New  Orleans  was  in  1856  a  city  of  vast  power  and 
vaster  possibilities  and  promise.  Even  if  not  so  gjeat  a 
field  as  was  commonly  thought,  it  was  nevertheless  a  great 
field,  a  field  of  abounding  and  widening  opportunity.  In  ad- 
dition to  the  people  of  his  flock  he  would  there  preach  for  . 
considerable  portions  of  the  year  to  great  numbers  of  planters 
and  merchants  from  the  central  and  southwestern  portions  of 
the  great  Mississippi  Valley.  He  would  preach  to  travelers 
and  sojourners.  His  influence  would  be  of  the  very  widest. 
Loving  all  men,  he  would  be  tactful  in  dealing  with  all.  To  the 
large  Hebrew  population  he  would  be  as  an  Hebrew  if  per- 
chance he  might  win  some  to  Christ.  To  the  Romanist  he 
would  show  all  the  consideration  consistent  with  his  calling 
as  a  Christian  and  a  minister.  Gentle  Creole  or  unwashed 
Dago,  he  would  win  them  all  by  Christian  courtesy  and  be- 
neficence. 

Of  the  church  in  New  Orleans  which  Dr.  Palmer  undertook 
to  serve  in  things  spiritual,  he  has  left  the  following  historical 
account  reaching  down  to  the  day  when  he  took  charge  of  it: 


2  n 


It  is  a  little  remarkable  that  the  first  successful  effort  to  plant 

'  This  account  was  read  by  him  at  the  Semi-Centenary  Anniversary 
of  Presbyterianism  in  New  Orleans,  November  23,  1873. 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  175 

Presbyterianism  in  the  city  of  New  Orleans  should  have  originated 
with  the  Congregationalists  of  New  England.  Near  the  beginning  of 
the  year  1817,  the  Rev.  Elias  Cornelius  was  appointed  by  the  Connecti- 
cut Missionary  Society  to  engage  in  a  Missionary  tour  through  the 
Southwestern  States,  more  especially  to  visit  New  Orleans,  then  con- 
taining a  population  of  thirty  to  thirty-four  thousand,  and  with  but 
one  Protestant  minister,  the  Rev.  Dr.  Hull;  to  examine  into  its  moral 
condition,  and  while  preaching  the  Gospel  to  many  who  seldom  heard 
it,  to  invite  the  friends  of  the  Congregational  or  Presbyterian  Commun- 
ion to  establish  a  Church,  and  to  secure  an  able  and  faithful  pastor. 
In  this  tour.  Dr.  Cornelius  acted  also  as  agent  for  the  A.  B.  C.  F.  M., 
to  solicit  funds  for  the  evangelization  of  the  Indian  tribes.  In  this 
work  he  was  eminently  successful,  devoting  an  entire  year  to  a 
lengthened  tour  from  Massachusetts  to  Louisiana,  collecting  large  sums 
for  the  American  Board,  and  arrived  in  New  Orleans  on  the  30th  of 
December,  181 7. 

"The  most  important  service  rendered  by  Dr.  Cornelius,  however, 
was  that  of  introducing  the  Rev.  Sylvester  Larned  to  this  fielfl  of  labor. 
In  passing  through  New  Jersey,  on  his  journey  southward.  Dr.  Cor- 
nelius formed  the  acquaintance  of  Mr.  Larned,  then  finishing  his 
divinity  course  at  Princeton,  and  giving,  in  the  reputation  acquired 
as  a  student,  brilliant  promise  of  a  successful  career  as  a  preacher. 
The  arrangement  was  there  formed  between  the  two,  that  Mr.  Larned 
should  follow  Dr.  Cornelius  to  New  Orleans,  after  he  should  have 
passed  his  trials,  and  should  have  been  admitted  to  the  ministry. 

"On  the  15th  of  July,  1817,  Mr.  Larned  was  licensed  and  ordained  by 
the  Presbytery  of  New  York.  This  ordination  was  clearly  to  the  office 
of  evangelist,  which  he  was  in  the  fullest  sense  of  the  word.  It  ap- 
pears, too,  that  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  was 
brought  into  cooperation  with  this  scheme;  from  the  fact  that  Drs. 
Nott  and  Romeyn  were  appointed  by  that  body  to  accompany  Mr. 
Larned  to  the  Southwest.  This  appointment  was  not,  however,  ful- 
filled, and  we  find  the  young  evangelist,  after  a  brief  visit  to  his  native 
home,  leaving  on  the  26th  of  September,  and  journeying  alone  to  the 
field  where  he  was  to  gather  the  laurels  of  an  unfading  reputation, 
and  then  to  sanctify  it  by  an  early  death.  He  reached  his  destination, 
after  innumerable  delays,  on  the  22nd  of  January,  1818. 

"Through  the  antecedent  preparation  of  his  friend.  Dr.  Cornelius, 
who  had  preceded  him  exactly  three  weeks,  and  still  more  by  his  own 
splendid  attractions,  overtures  were  soon  made  to  him  for  a  permanent 
settlement  Subscriptions  were  circulated  for  the  building  of  a  church 
edifice,  which  by  the  5th  of  April  amounted  to  $16,000.  It  was  pro- 
posed, as  soon  as  the  subscriptions  were  completed,  to  negotiate  a  loan 
of  $40,000,  the  estimated  cost  of  a  building  sixty  feet  by  ninety,  with 
about  2,000  sittings.  Considering  the  infancy  of  the  enterprise,  the 
largeness  of  these  plans  betokens  great  vigor  of  effort,  and  the  confi- 


176       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

dence  felt  of  final  success  in  collecting  and  maintaining  a  flourishing 
church.  In  this  costly  undertaking,  generous  assistance  was  received 
from  the  city  Council  in  the  grant  of  two  lots  of  ground,  valued  at 
$6,000  and  in  a  subsequent  loan  of  $10,000.  In  the  erection  of  the 
building,  Mr.  Larned's  spiritual  labors  were  interrupted  during  the 
summer  of  1818  by  a  visit  North,  for  the  purpose  of  soliciting  money, 
and  also  of  purchasing  materials  for  building. 

"On  the  8th  of  January,  1819,  the  cornerstone  of  the  new  edifice  was 
laid  with  imposing  ceremonies  (and  in  the  presence  of  an  immense 
throng),  on  the  selected  site  on  St.  Charles  Street,  between  Gravier 
and  Union,  and  on  the  4th  of  July  following,  was  solemnly  dedicated 
to  the  worship  of  Almighty  God,  with  a  discourse  from  Psalm  48:9, 
*We  have  thought  of  thy  lovingkindness,  O  God,  in  the  midst  of  thy 
temple,'  which  will  be  found  the  fourth  in  the  series  of  sermons  pub- 
lished in  connection  with  Mr.  Lamed's  'Memoirs.' 

"There  are  no  records  from  which  to  learn  the  spiritual  growth  of 
the  church  during  this  early  period,  except  that  in  one  of  his  letters, 
Mr.  Larned  speaks  of  a  communion  s^son,  about  the  middle  of  July, 
1820,  in  which  there  were  forty-two  at  the  table  of  the  Lord,  part  of 
whom  were,  however,  Methodists.  Mr.  Larned's  labors  were  those 
exclusively  of  an  evangelist;  and  his  brief  life  was  spent  in  gathering 
a  congregation  and  building  a  house  of  worship.  There  is  no  record 
of  his  having  organized  a  church  according  to  our  ecclesiastical  canons, 
by  the  election  and  ordination  of  ruling  elders;  and  he  himself  was 
never  installed  into  the  pastoral  relation  by  ecclesiastical  authority. 
It  pleased  the  Great  Head  of  the  Church  to  arrest  his  labors  before  they 
reached  this  point  of  consummation.     During  the  month  of  August, 

1820,  the  scourge  which  has  so  often  desolated  our  city  made  its  ap- 
pearance. On  the  Sabbath,  August  27,  he  preached  from  Phil,  i :  21 : 
*For  me  to  Hve  is  Christ,  and  to  die  is  gain:'  words  alas!  prophetic 
of  his  speedy  call  to  those  mansions  Vhere  all  is  gain' — forever  to 
the  believer.  On  the  following  Thursday,  August  31st,  the  very 
day  on  which  he  completed  the  24th  year  of  his  age,  he  fell  asleep  in 
Jesus,  or  rather  awoke  to  the  glory  and  joy  of  his  Lord.  His  remains 
were  consigned  to  the  tomb  in  Girod  Cemetery,  with  the  Episcopal 
service  for  the  dead  rendered  by  the  Rev.  Dr.  Hull. 

"Mr.  Larned's  successor,  after  an  interval  of  eighteen  months,  was 
the  Rev.  Theodore  Clapp,  a  native  of  Massachusetts,  and  a  graduate  of 
Yale  College  and  of  the  Theological  Seminary  at  Andover.  He  was 
licensed  by  a  Congregational  Association,  October,  18 17,  and  was  led 
providentially  to  Kentucky,  by  an  engagement  as  private  tutor  in  a 
family  residing  near  Lexington,  in  that  State.    During  the  summer  of 

1821,  he  spent  a  few  weeks  at  a  watering  place  in  Kentucky  and  on  the 
Sabbath  preached  in  one  of  the  public  rooms  of  the  hotel  to  the  as- 
sembled guests.  This  apparently  casual  circumstance  led  to  his  settle- 
ment in  New  Orleans.     Amongst  his  hearers  on  that  occasion  were 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  177 

two  gentlemen  from  our  city,  trustees  of  Mr.  Lamed's  Church;  wjio, 
upon  their  return  home,  caused  a  letter  to  be  written,  inviting  him  to 
New  Orleans.  This  invitation,  at  first  declined,  led  to  a  visit  to  this 
city  near  the  close  of  February,  1822. 

'"On  the  third  Sabbath  after  his  arrival,  he  was  unanimously  chosen 
to  fill  the  vacant  pulpit  Finding  the  church  embarrassed  by  a  debt 
of  $45,000,  he  naturally  hesitated  and  finally  made  its  liquidation  the 
condition  of  his  acceptance  of  the  call.  The  method  adopted  for  this 
purpose,  though  deemed  proper  at  the  time,  would  now  be  disallowed 
by  the  better  educated  conscience  of  the  Church.  The  trustees  made 
application  to  the  Legislature  of  Louisiana,  then  in  session,  for  a 
lottery;  which  being  sold  to  Yates  &  Mclntyre,  of  New  York,  for 
$25,000,  relieved  the  pressure  of  debt  to  that  amount.  For  the  remain- 
ing $20,000  the  building  was  sold  to  Judah  Touro,  Esq.,  a  merchant  of 
wealth,  whose  magnificent  charities  have  left  his  name  in  grateful 
remembrance  to  the  people  of  New  Orleans.  It  may  be  well  to  state 
here,  though  a  little  in  advance  of  dates,  that  Mr.  Touro  held  the  build- 
ing to  the  time  of  its  destruction  by  fire;  allowing  the  income  from 
pew  rents  to  the  use  of  the  minister,  and  incurring  the  expense  of 
keeping  it  in  repair.  He  was  Mr.  Clapp's  personal  friend  and  bene- 
factor throughout  life;  and  when  the  original  building  was  burnt,  and 
long  after  it  had  been  carried  away  from  Presbjrterianism  by  Mr. 
Clapp's  secession,  Mr.  Touro,  we  believe,  built  a  small  chapel  for  the 
Unitarian  Congregation,  until  a  larger  edifice  could  be  erected  for  their 
accommodation.  Such  instances  of  princely  munificence  deserve  to  be 
engraved  on  tables  of  marble.     But  this  is  to  anticipate. 

"The  first  notice  of  the  organization  of  this  church,  as  a  spiritual 
body,  is  in  the  record  of  a  meeting  held  for  this  purpose  on  the  23rd 
of  November,  1823.  Prior  to  this,  the  labors  of  Mr.  Lamed,  extending 
over  a  period  of  two  years  and  seven  months,  from  January  22,  1818, 
to  August  31,  1820;  and  those  of  Mr.  Clapp  over  a  period  of  one  year 
and  nine  months,  from  March,  1822,  to  November,  1823,  were  simply 
evangelistic.  A  congregation  had  been  gathered,  a  house  of  worship 
built,  the  word  and  sacraments  administered,  and  the  materials  col- 
lected for  the  spiritual  church  in  the  admission  of  persons  to  sealing 
ordinances,  all  in  the  exercise  of  that  power  which  the  Scriptures  and 
our  Presbyterian  Standards  assign  to  the  evangelist.  The  time  had 
now  arrived  for  gathering  up  the  results  of  these  labors  in  a  permanent 
and  organized  form. 

"On  the  evening  of  November  23,  1823,  just  fifty  years  ago,  at  a 
meeting  moderated  by  Rev.  Mr.  Clapp,  nine  males  and  fifteen  females 
presented  credentials  of  having  been  admitted  to  the  Sacrament  of 
the  Lord's  Supper,  by  Mr.  Lamed,  as  follows: 

"Males. — Alfred  Hennen,  James  Robinson,  William  Ross,  Rob't.  H. 
McNair,  Moses  Cox,  Hugh  Farrie,  Richard  Pearse,  John  Spittal,  John 
Rollins. 
12 


178       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"Females. — Phoebe  Farrie,  Catherine  Hearsey,  Celeste  Hearsey,  Dora 
A.  Hearsey,  Margaret  Agur,  Ann  Ross,  Eliza  Hill,  Margaret  McNair, 
Sarah  Ann  Harper,  Ann  Davison,  Stella  Mercer,  Jane  Robinson,  Eliza 
Baldwin,  Mary  Porter,  Eliza  Davidson. 

'These  persons,  twenty-four  in  all,  were  formed  into  a  church,  by 
the  adoption  of  the  Presbyterian  Standards  in  doctrine,  government, 
discipline,-  and  worship,  and  by  a  petition  to  the  Presbytery  of  Mis- 
sissippi, to  be  enrolled  among  the  churches  under  its  care,  with  the 
style  and  title  of  The  First  Presbyterian  Church  in  the  City  and 
Parish  of  New  Orleans.'  The  organization  was  completed  by  the 
election  on  the  same  evening  of  four  persons  to  be  ruling  elders,  viz: 
William  Ross,  Moses  Cox,  James  Robinson  and  Robert  H.  McNair, 
who  were  accordingly  ordained  and  installed  on  the  following  Sabbath, 
November  30,  1823. 

"Mr.  Clapp's  ministry  was  a  troubled  one,  from  suspicions  entertained 
of  his  doctrinal  soundness.  From  his  own  statements,  as  early  as  1824 
his  faith  was  shaken  as  to  the  doctrine  of  the  eternity  of  future  pun- 
ishment. He  pushed  his  fnvestigations,  doubts  darkening  upon  him, 
through  years,  until  at  length  he  was  forced  to  plant  himself  in  open 
hostility  to  the  whole  Calvinistic  Theology.  It  is  not  strange  that 
inconsistent  and  wavering  statements  of  truth  should  find  their 
way  into  the  ministrations  of  the  pulpit,  at  the  very  time  his  faith  was 
shaken  in  the  tenets  which  he  had  subscribed,  and  when  his  own  mind 
was  working  to  an  entire  renunciation  of  them.  A  single  crack  in 
a  bell  is  sufficient  to  destroy  its  tone ;  and  it  is  not  surprising  that  some 
of  his  parishioners  should  miss  that  clear  ring  which  the  pulpit  is  ex- 
pected to  give  forth.  Certain  it  is,  that  the  repose  of  the  Church  was 
seriously  disturbed  for  years  by  two  parallel  prosecutions  before  the 
session  against  two  prominent  members  of  the  Church,  one  of  them 
a  ruling  elder,  grounded  upon  their  undisguised  dissatisfaction  with  the 
minister.  In  the  course  of  these  complicated  proceedings,  the  session, 
by  death  and  deposition  from  offices,  became  reduced  below  a  consti- 
tutional quorum;  which  led  in  March,  1828,  to  the  election  and  ordi- 
nation of  five  new  elders :  Alfred  Hennen,  Joseph  A.  Maybin,  Wm.  W. 
Caldwell,  Josiah  Crocker  and  Fabricius  Reynolds. 

"On  the  fifth  of  March,  1830,  Mr.  Clapp  addressed  a  letter  to  the 
Presbytery  of  Mississippi,  in  which  he  says:  *I  have  not  found,  and  at 
present  despair  of  finding,  any  text  of  Holy  Writ  to  prove  unanswer- 
ably the  distinguishing  tenets  of  Calvinism.'  He  therefore  solicited 
a  dismission  from  the  Presbytery  to  the  Hampshire  County  Association 
of  Congregational  Ministers  in  the  State  of  Massachusetts.  This  dis- 
mission was  refused  by  the  Presbytery,  on  the  ground  that  it  was  incon- 
sistent to  dismiss,  in  good  standing,  to  another  body  one  whom  they 
could  no  longer  recognize  in  their  own;  and  they  proceeded  to  declare 
Mr.  Clapp  no  longer  a  member  of  their  body,  or  a  minister  in  the 
Presbyterian  Church.    A  letter  was  also  addressed  to  the  church  ad- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  179 

vising  them  of  this  action,  and  declaring  the  pulpit  vacant.  No  definite 
action  was  taken  upon  this  communication  of  the  Presbytery  until 
January,  183 1,  when  the  session  proposed  to  take  mind  of  the  church, 
whether  to  retain  Mr.  Clapp  as  their  pastor,  or  to  abide  by  the  de- 
cision of  the  Presbytery  and  to  sever  that  connection.  This  sifting 
process  was,  however,  arrested  by  an  exception  taken  against  this  action 
and  against  the  Presbyterian  decree  upon  which  it  was  based.  By 
common  consent,  the  case  was  carried  over  the  intermediate  court  im- 
mediately to  the  General  Assembly,  which  body  sustained  the  exception, 
declaring,  'that  as  Mr.  Clapp  had  neither  been  dismissed  nor  sus- 
pended by  the  Presbytery,  he  ought  to  be  regarded  as  a  member  of 
that  body,  and  that  in  the  opinion  of  the  Assembly,  they  have  sufficient 
reasons  for  proceeding  to  try  him  upon  the  charge  of  error  in  doctrine.' 

"The  case  being  thus  remanded  to  the  Presbjrtery  had  to  be  taken  up 
anew.  Meanwhile  the  agitation  in  the  bosom  of  the  church  could  not 
be  allayed.  On  the  13th  of  January,  1832,  fifteen  members,  including 
elders  McNair  and  Gildwell,  were  dismissed  at  their  request,  for  the 
purpose  of  forming  another  church  upon  the  principles  of  the  doctrine 
and  discipline  of  the  Presbyterian  Church.  This  seceding  body  wor- 
shipped in  a  warehouse  of  Mr.  Cornelius  Paulding,  opposite  Lafayette 
Square,  on  the  site  covered  by  the  building  in  which  we  are  now  as- 
sembled. It  enjoyed  the  services  of  the  Rev.  Mr.  Harris;  but  the  ref- 
erences to  it  are  scant  and  after  a  brief  and  flickering  existence,  its  ele- 
ments were  reabsorbed  into  the  First  Church.  Meanwhile  the  Presby- 
tery concluded  its  proceedings  in  the  trial  of  Mr.  Clapp,  on  the  loth 
of  January,  1833 ;  when  he  was  deposed  from  the  office  of  the  ministry, 
and  his  relations  to  the  church,  which  had  only  been  those  of  a  Stated 
Supply  and  not  of  an  installed  pastor,  were  finally  cancelled.  The  roll 
of  communicants,  just  before  the  secession  of  1832,  numbered  eighty- 
nine. 

"Presbyterianism  had  now  to  start  anew,  from  a  beginning  quite  as 
small  as  at  first.  The  social  and  amiable  qualities  of  Mr.  Clapp  en- 
deared him  greatly  as  a  man;  the  large  majority  of  his  hearers  could 
not  appreciate  this  clamor  about  doctrine;  and  many  of  the  truly  pious 
were  slow  to  credit  the  extent  of  his  departure  from  the  faith,  and 
were  disposed  to  sympathize  with  him  as  one  unkindly  persecuted. 
The  few,  therefore,  who  came  forth,  exactly  nine,  with  the  two  elders, 
Hennen  and  Maybin,  found  themselves  in  the  condition  of  seceders 
who  were  houseless  in  the  streets.  Fortunately  a  spiritual  guide  was 
immediately  provided.  The  Rev.  Dr.  Joel  Parker,  in  the  service  of  the 
American  Home  Mission  Society,  being  in  the  city,  was  at  once  solicited 
to  become  their  Stated  Supply.  His  connection  began  January  12,  1833, 
and  the  little  band  worshipped  alternately  with  the  organism  formed  a  , 
year  before  under  Mr.  Harris,  in  the  wareroom  on  Lafayette  Square. 
These  two  wings  finally  coalesced  in  1835.  In  March,  1834,  Dr.  Parker 
was  unanimously  chosen  pastor,  and  on  the  27th  of  April,  was  duly 


i8o       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

installed  by  the  Presbytery  of  Mississippi.  During  this  summer  he 
was  absent  at  the  North,  collecting  funds  for  building  a  new  House 
of  Worship.  Some  statements  made  by  him  to  Northern  audiences 
respecting  the  religious  conditions  and  necessities  of  New  Orleans 
were  grossly  misrepresented  in  the  public  prints.  A  violent  excitement 
was  created  against  him  in  the  city,  indignation  meetings  were  held, 
and  he  was  once  or  twice  burnt  in  effigy  by  the  population.  The  storm 
was  met  with  great  firmness  and  dignity  by  the  church,  which  rallied 
around  its  pastor,  produced  written  evidence  that  Dr.  Parker  had  been 
entirely  misrepresented,  and  contended  earnestly  for  the  exercise  of 
their  own  religious  rights.  In  a  short  time  the  fierce  opposition  was 
quelled,  and  was  eventually  lived  down. 

"Upon  the  pastor's  return  in  the  autumn,  worship  was  resumed  in  a 
room  on  Julia  Street,  until  March  15,  1835,  when  the  basement  of  the 
new  building  on  Lafayette  Square  was  first  occupied.  This  edifice,  so 
well  remembered  by  many  present,  was  erected  at  an  original  cost, 
including  the  site,  of  $57,616.  Subsequently  improvements  and  enlarge- 
ments were  made  in  1844,  with  an  additional  purchase  of  ground, 
amounting  to  over  $17,000  more;  making  the  whole  cost  of  the  church, 
which  was  destroyed  by  fire  in  1854,  $75,000. 

"Dr.  Parker's  connection  with  the  church  extended  over  a  period  of 
five  years  and  six  months,  from  January  12,  1833,  to  June  14,  1838, 
at  which  date  he  left,  never  to  return.  The  pastoral  relation  was  not, 
however,  dissolved  till  the  spring  of  1839.  During  his  pastorship,  the 
church  was  greatly  prospered,  having  secured  a  commodious  sanctuary, 
and  showing  as  early  as  1836,  a  church  roll  numbering  142  communi- 
cants. There  were  two  elections  of  elders :  in  1834,  Dr.  John  R.  Moore, 
Frederick  R.  Southmayd  and  Truman  Parmele  being  chosen  to  that 
office;  and  in  1838,  Stephen  Franklin,  John  S.  Walton  and  James 
Beattie. 

"The  next  incumbent  of  the  pulpit  was  the  Rev.  Dr.  John  Brecken- 
ridge,  with  whom  the  church  opened  negotiations  in  February,  1839. 
This  gentleman  was  at  the  time  the  Secretary  of  the  Assembly's  Board 
of  Foreign  Missions.  In  his  letter  to  the  church,  dated  May,  1839, 
he  consents  to  serve  it  in  conjunction  with  his  secretaryship,  from  which 
his  brethren  were  unwilling  to  release  him,  the  Board  giving  him  a 
dispensation  of  six  or  seven  months  for  this  purpose.  These  conditions 
being  accepted.  Dr.  Breckenridge  spent  the  winter  of  1839,  in  New  Or- 
lenas;  and  still  again  the  winter  of  1840  till  April  of  1841.  He  was 
called  to  the  eternal  rest  in  August  of  1841,  retaining  in  his  hand  the 
call  of  this  church  as  pastor  elect.  His  labors  were  fragmentary, 
but  efficient ;  and  the  church  was  left  to  mourn  over  hopes  disappointed 
.in  his  death. 

"The  attention  of  the  church  was  soon  turned  to  Rev.  Dr.  Wm.  A. 
Scott,  of  Tuscaloosa,  Ala.,  who  was  installed  as  pastor  on  the  19th  of 
March,   1843,  and  whose  pastoral   relation  was   formally  dissolved  in 


V 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  i8i 

September,  1855.  His  active  connection  with  the  church,  however, 
began  and  closed  earlier  than  these  dates.  His  term  of  service  as 
pastor-elect  began  in  the  fall  of  1842,  and  his  active  labors  ceased  in 
November,  1854,  covering  a  period  of  twelve  years.  Dr.  Scott's  min- 
istry was  exceedingly  productive,  during  which  vigorous  and  constant 
efforts  were  made  to  build  up  the  interests  of  Presbyterianism  in  the 
city.  The  roll  of  communicants  swelled  in  1844  to  439,  and  before  the 
close  of  his  ministry  to  600. 

"On  the  20th  of  July,  1845,  Dr.  J.  M.  W.  Picton  and  Chas.  Gardiner 
were  ordained  to  the  office  of  ruling  elders;  and  Thomas  Bowman 
and  William  P.  Campbell,  to  that  of  deacon.  On  the  23d  of  December, 
1849,  R.  B.  Shepherd,  W.  P.  Campbell  and  W.  A.  Bartlett  were  or- 
dained to  the  Eldership ;  and  W.  H.  Reese,  L.  L.,  Brown  and  James 
Rainey,  to  the  diaconate;  and  on  the  28th  of  November,  1852,  the 
Bench  of  Deacons  was  increased  by  the  installation  of  W.  C.  Black, 
Robt.  A.  Grinnan  and  Simon  Devisser — and  of  J.  G.  Dunlap  on  the 
23d  of  January,   1853. 

"The  church  edifice  was  burnt  on  the  29th  of  October,  1854;  and  it  is 
to  the  last  degree  creditable  to  the  congregation  that  among  all  the 
discouragements  of  a  vacant  Bishopric  and  a  congregation  scattered,  it 
should  have  proceeded  at  once  to  build  another  of  larger  proportions 
and  more  finished  in  style.  In  1857  the  house  in  which  we  are 
now  assembled  was  finished  and  dedicated  to  the  worship  of  God.  Its 
cost  with  all  its  appointments  was  about  $87,000. 

"On  the  21  st  of  September,  1854,  a  call  was  made  out  to  the  Rev. 
B.  M.  Palmer,  of  South  Carolina,  which  upon  being  presented  before 
his  Presbytery  and  Synod  was  defeated  by  the  refusal  of  those  bodies 
to  place  it  in  his  hands.  The  call  was  renewed  on  the  i6th  of  March, 
1856,  and  prevailed.  His  labors  began  early  in  December  of  that  year, 
and  on  the  28th  of  the  same  month  he  was  installed  by  the  Presbytery 
of  New  Orleans.  After  a  lapse  of  seventeen  years,  he  is  present  to- 
night to  read  this  record  of  God's  exceeding  faithfulness  and  mercy  to 
his  redeemed  people.  It  is  only  proper  to  add,  that  the  membership 
of  this  church,  which,  after  Dr.  Scott's  withdrawal  was  thrown  down 
to  350,  was  carried  up  in  1861,  just  before  the  war,  to  531.  By  the  war 
in  1866,  it  was  again  reduced  to  436,  and  now  reaches  to  648. 

"Three  successful  Mission  Schools  are  sustained  and  two  buildings 
erected  for  their  accommodation,  one  of  these  large  and  comfortable, 
at  a  cost  of  some  $10,000.  It  is  now  sustaining  a  City  Missionary, 
which  it  has  often  done  in  the  past,  and  always  with  marked  results 
in  the  extension  of  the  cause  so  dear  to  all  our  hearts." 

In  the  church  thus  described  he  began  his  labors  as  early 
as  December  9,  1856.  On  the  nineteenth  day  of  the  month 
he  was  received  into  the  Presbytery  of  New  Orleans.  The 
Presbytery  at  once  arranged  for  his  installation  at  3  p.m., 


/ 


i82       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

December  28,  1856.  At  the  installation  services  the  Rev.  J.  R. 
Hutchinson,  Moderator  of  the  Presbytery,  preached  from  Rom. 
II :  13,  "I  magnify  mine  office,"  on  "The  Dignity  and  Impor- 
tance of  the  Ministerial  Office,"  a  topic  which  the  candidate  for 
installation  was  to  illustrate  in  a  most  remarkable  way. 

In  a  few  months  it  was  his  privilege  to  preach  a  sermon 
dedicatory  of  the  new  church  building — z  most  imposing  edi- 
fice of  the  Gothic  type  of  architecture,  with  an  audience  room 
capable  of  seating  from  fifteen  hundred  to  two  thousand 
people.  He  made  use  of  the  sermon  he  had  preached  at  the 
dedication  of  the  church  built  by  him  in  Columbia ;.  in  which  he 
set  for  himself  again,  as  well  as  for  his  people,  a  high  ideal 
in  worship. 

Dr.  Palmer  was  now  in  a  new  field.  It  was  quite  possible 
for  him  to  relax  his  efforts  in  the  construction  of  sermons. 
He  had  accumulated  a  large  stock  of  briefs.  We,  indeed  find 
that  he  is  not  insensible  to  the  fact ;  find  that  he  uses  some  of 
his  best  old  sermons — some  of  them  the  products  of  his  youth- 
ful labors  at  Savannah,  and  more  of  them  made  in  Columbia ; 
but  we  find  no  sign  of  relaxation,  old  briefs  are  reworked, 
if  used,  and  take  nobler  forms ;  and  new  ones  are  added  to  hi$ 
stores  week  after  week.  Some  of  these  new  ones  he  liked  very 
much  apparently.  When  he  travelled  they  went  with  him; 
and  other  congregations  than  his  own  heard  them.  A  study 
of  these  briefs  shows  that  he  continued  to  preach  the  Gospel 
and  the  whole  Gospel ;  and  that,  ^xcept  in  one  or  two  instances, 
he  preached  nothing  but  the  Gospel. 

He  had  captured  the  people  of  his  church  with  his  first 
sermon  to  them.  He  speedily  and  mightily  confirmed  his  do- 
minion over  them  during  the  early  months  of  his  ministry — a 
dominion  that  was  to  be  regal  thence  to  his  death  and  even 
after  his  death.  As  the  weeks  and  months  passed,  his  sphere 
widened  beyond  the  limits  of  his  own  congregation  and  of  his 
own  church.  A  multitude  scattered  throughout  the  city  and 
the  sphere  of  its  influence  developed  an  interest  in  his  preach- 
ing. This  is  evidenced  by  the  reproduction  of  not  a  few  of 
his  sermons  in  secular  newspapers.  A  portion  of  the  New  Or- 
leans press  at  that  date  showed  a  most  commendable  readiness 
to  open  their  columns  to  sermons  of  a  high  order  of  instruc- 
tiveness.  A  visit  to  the  New  Orleans  City  Archives  and  a 
glance  at  the  great  dailies  of  the  years  1857  to  1861  will  enable 
one  to  read  some  of  Dr.  Palmer's  sermons  in  full;  and  com- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  183 

pendious  reports  of  many  others.  They  were  not  published 
because  they  were  in  any  way  sensational.  They  are  noble  di- 
dactic discourses. 

His  teaching  was  not  confined  to  preaching  on  the  Sab- 
bath and  lecturing  on  Wednesday  evenings  to  his  prayer  meet- 
ing. On  two  other  week-day  evenings  he  lectured  to  special 
classes  organized  for  the  study  of  the  Bible. 

His  individual  dealing  with  those  who  sought  his  spiritual 
counsel  was  marked  by  wonderful  power  of  diagnosis,  by 
equally  wonderful  facility  in  pointing  them  to  the  very  truths 
needed,  and  by  the  tactful  but  courageous  and  resolute  appli- 
cation of  the  truth.  Let  an  account  of  his  dealing  with  an 
inebriate  serve  to  illustrate  his  skill  in  dealing  with  individ- 
uals.*   He  told  the  story  as  follows,  in  1869: 

"I  was  seated  one  Friday  evening  in  my  parlor,  enjoying  the  society 
of  a  few  friends  by  the  family  fire-place,  when  the  door-bell  rang, 
with  a  hesitating  sound,  as  if  touched  by  a  weak  or  a  trembling  hand. 
Obeying  the  summons  myself,  without  waiting  for  a  servant,  the  dim 
light  of  the  street  revealed  a  stranger,  who  addressed  me  thus: 

**  *I  presume  you  are  the  Rev. ,    If  so  I  would  be  glad  to  speak 

to  you  alone,  in  your  study.' 

"Ushering  him  upstairs  into  the  little  back  room,  where,  each  week, 
the  olive  oil  is  beaten  for  the  lamps  of  the  sanctuary,  the  lighted  gas 
disclosed  a  form  in  which  it  was  impossible  not  to  be  immediately  in- 
terested. He  was  a  little  above  the  average  height,  with  a  well-knit 
frame  and  a  graceful  carriage,  which  betrayed  him  as  familiar  with 
good  society.  A  broad  forehead — which  seemed  the  more  expansive 
as  it  merged  into  a  perfectly  bald  crown — and  the  clearly  cut  and  com- 
pressed lips,  were  S)rmbols  alike  of  character  and  intellect.  The  eye, 
alas!  which  should  have  expressed  even  more,  was  blood-shot  and 
streaked  with  veins,  while  the  entire  countenance  was  haggard  and 
flushed.  I  had  scarcely  time  for  a  superficial  glance,  when  he  sank  upon 
a  chair,  and  bowed  his  head  between  his  arms,  crossed  upon  the  table, 
and  in  that  position  he  sobbed  aloud  for  the  space  of  ten  minutes.  Sat- 
isfied that  I  was  in  the  presence  of  a  gentleman  who  would  soon  be 
able  to  assert  himself,  and  direct  the  interview,  I  waited  patiently  for 
this  paroxysm  of  feeling  to  pass  by,  without  interposing  a  word. 

"Lifting  himself,  at  length,  he  turned  his  face  upon  mine,  and  in 
choice  language  recited  his  personal  history,  substantially  as  follows: 

"  'You  have  before  you,  sir,  a  man  who  has  fallen  from  the  highest 
social  position  to  the  lowest  degradation.  At  an  early  age  I  was  left 
to  the  care  of  a  widowed  mother,  and  was  reared  with  all  that  fond 

•Dr.  Palmer  contributed  this  account  to  the  Southwestern  Presby- 
terian, April  29,  1869,  but  not  over  his  own  name. 


184       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

affection  likely  to  be  lavished  upon  an  only  child.  I  was  furnished  with 
the  advantages  of  a  liberal  education,  and  entered,  at  my  majority, 
upon  the  possession  of  a  handsome  estate.  Prosecuting  the  study  of 
the  law,  and  admitted  to  its  practice,  I  was  rising  gradually  in  that 
profession,  which  promised  to  reward  me  with  honorable  distinction. 
In  due  course  of  time  I  was  united  in  marriage  with  a  lovely  wife, 
whose  intellectual  gifts,  personal  charms,  and  amiable  temper  are  such 
as  seldom  have  blessed  a  human  home.  And,  to  crown  the  whole,  I 
was  a  professor  of  religion,  and  esteemed  a  worthy  member  of  the 
Church  of  God.  In  the  midst  of  all  this  earthly  prosperity,  whilst  life 
was  blooming  around  me  like  the  ancient  paradise,  I  was  seized,  two 
years  ago,  with  the  insane  desire  of  becoming  suddenly  rich,  and 
yielded  to  the  temptation  of  abandoning  my  profession,  in  order  to 
speculate  in  whiskey!  Separated  by  my  new  calling  from  the  sweet 
influences  of  home,  and  surrounded  by  the  associations  which  belong 
to  such  a  traflSc,  I  have  fallen  a  victim  to  its  baneful  power,  and  am 
now  before  you  a  degraded  sot!  upon  the  verge  of  delirium  tremens. 
The  two  weeks  that  I  have  spent  in  your  city  have  been  spent  in  a  deep 
debauch.  These  two  letters  [which  he  took  from  a  side  pocket]  have 
been  lying,  unanswered,  all  that  time;  and  not  till  this  afternoon  have 
I  been  sober  enough  to  break  the  seals,  and  learn  their  contents.  I 
have,  however,  read  them  over  and  over  again,  and  you  see  they  are 
blotted  and  stained  with  my  tears.  I  am  overwhelmed  with  remorse; 
listen  to  them,  and  see  how  they  plead  with  such  a  wretch  as  I  am!' 

"Choking  with  the  emotion  which  often  interrupted  the  perusal, 
he  then  unfolded  and  read  to  me  the  first  of  these  letters ;  it  was  from 
his  mother,  and  a  more  eloquent  and  pathetic  appeal  never  flowed, 
even  from  a  mother's  pen.  It  began  with  her  early  widowhood,  when 
*the  strong  staff  was  broken,  and  the  beautiful  rod'  upon  which  she 
had  leaned.  It  told  how  her  bruised  affections  had  gathered  around  the 
only  child  spared  to  be  the  comfort  of  those  weary  years;  and  her 
heart  had  grown  warm  with  hope  as  this  boy  developed  into  manhood. 
It  described  the  fulness  of  her  gratitude  when  these  hopes  seemed  to 
be  realized  in  the  rich  promise  of  his  later  years,  and  the  proud  joy 
she  felt  when,  in  his  pride,  she  clasped  a  daughter  in  her  arms.  It 
depicted  the  beauty  of  his  home,  where  now  two  prattling  babes  whis- 
pered the  name  of  the  absent  father.  Then  came  the  fearful  contrast: 
how  the  Tempter  entered  into  this  Eden,  and  with  him  the  blighting 
of  hopes,  and  the  ruin  of  her  son.  Upon  the  back  of  all  this,  poured 
the  passionate  entreaty — ^breaking,  like  a  wail,  from  a  dying  woman's 
heart — that  the  wanderer  would  come  back  to  the  endearments  of 
home,  and  walk,  evermore,  in  the  paths  of  honor  and  virtue.  The 
appeal  was  enough  to  move  a  heart  of  stone.  It  made  me,  a  stranger, 
weep;  no  wonder  that  he,  to  whom  it  was  addressed,  shook  beneath 
its  breath,  like  a  reed  before  the  storm. 

"He  then  opened  the  second  letter.    It  began:  'My  darling  husband/ 


Ante-Bellum  Period,  in  New  Orleans.  185 

Ah!  this  tenderness  of  a  still  loving  wife;  it  cut  with  an  edge  keener 
than  that  of  reproach — ^to  the  very  core  of  his  remorse.  Throwing 
the  sheet  upon  the  table,  he  covered  his  face  with  his  hands,  and  sobbed 
— without  an  effort  at  self-control.  It  was  too  much  for  me,  as  well 
as  for  him,  so  I  put  out  my  hand,  gently,  to  his,  and  said,  Tut  up  that 
letter,  Mr.  B. ;  it  is  from  your  wife,  and  let  no  one  come  into  the 
sanctuary  of  that  confidence.  I  was  not  unwilling  to  hear  the  plead- 
ings of  your  mother — the  words  of  a  wife  are  too  sacred.' 

"Replacing  the  letters  in  his  pocket,  he  turned  and  said  with  some- 
thing like  vehemence,  'My  dear  sir,  will  you  pray  for  me?'  TCneeling 
down  together,  I  poured  forth  one  of  those  wrestling  prayers  in  which 
the  argument  grows,  and  the  fervor  deepens,  as  we  advance,  that  it 
would  please  God  to  change  this  remorse  into  penitence ;  that  the  blood 
of  Christ  might  purge  this  conscience,  groaning  under  a  sense  of  guilt; 
that  the  Holy  Spirit  might  renew  and  save  this  poor  sinner,  upon  whom 
God  had  so  just  and  perfect  a  claim.  Scarcely  had  we  risen  before  he 
cried  out,  *Oh !  sir,  pray  for  me  again  I'  We  knelt  a  second  time ;  and 
so  a  third— and  then  a  fourth — a  fifth;  when  the  sixth  request  came 
I  paused,  and  said,  *Mr.  B.,  this  scene  is  becoming  oppressive;  I  am 
afraid  that  we  are  in  danger  of  those  vain  repetitions  which  the 
Savior  condemns.  It  is  right  that  we  should  go  to  God  in  prayer,  for 
he  is  the  only  source  of  grace  and  strength  to  you  in  this  hard  battle 
with  your  vices.  But  we  have  told  it  all  to  God,  and  now  he  waits 
to  hear  from  your  own  lips  what  you  mean  to  do.' 
'Dor  said  he,  'What  can  I  do?' 

'My  friend,'  I  replied;  'something  else  is  required  of  you  besides 
prayer;  and  by  the  very  solemnity  of  the  petitions  we  have  offered 
here  together,  I  summon  you  to  decide  what  course  you  intend  to 
pursue  in  the  future.' 

'Tell  me,  sir,  what  I  ought  to  do.' 

'Well,  then,  in  the  first  place,  you  must  extricate  yourself  from  the 
accursed  business  which  has  been  your  ruin.  Were  I  you,  I  would  take 
the  hogsheads  of  liquor  you  came  here  to  sell,  to  the  levee,  and  empty 
them  all  into  the  waters  of  the  Mississippi.' 

"  'Ah,  sir,  I  cannot  do  that,  for  I  have  partners  equally  implicated  in 
the  speculation.' 

"  Then,  at  any  rate,  wash  your  hands  of  the  whole  business,  at  once ; 
will  you  do  this?* 

"  'Yes,  sir,  I  will,  if  I  live  to  see  to-morrow's  sun.' 

"  'In  the  next  place,'  I  resumed ;  'go  back,  at  once,  to  your  neglected 
home,  and  there,  under  the  sanctity  of  your  widowed  mother's  prayer, 
and  beneath  the  softening  influences  of  your  wife  arid  babes,  foster  the 
purpose  of  reform.  Resume  the  practice  of  your  noble  profession;  and 
throw  around  yourself  all  the  restraints  and  obligations  of  society. 
Will  you  do  this?' 

'I   will,   sir,'   was   the   instantaneous   response. 


« 

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it 


u  ^^ 


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i86       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 


«  u 


'Once  more:  I  am  bound  in  faithfulness  to  say  to  you  that  I  have 
little  confidence  in  the  unaided  strength  of  the  human  will  to  break  the 
fetters  of  such  a  vice  as  holds  you  in  its  grasp;  and  none  at  all  in 
the  sinner's  ability,  without  Divine  grace,  to  repent,  truly  before  God. 
Go,  then,  in  your  guilt  and  helplessness,  to  him  whose  promise  is, 
'though  your  sins  be  as  scarlet,  they  shall  be  white  as  snow,'  and  throw 
yourself  upon  his  mercy,  in  Christ,  for  pardon  and  eternal  life/ 

"  1  can  only  promise,  my  dear  sir,'  was  the  response,  'to  make  an 
honest  effort  to  obey  your  counsel  in  respect  to  this.' 

"  *Wha't  I  wish  to  impress  upon  you,  my  friend,*  I  replied,  'is,  that 
remorse  is  not  repentance,  and  reformaton  is  not  religion.  Renew  the 
covenant  which  you  have  broken,  with  your  God,  and  do  not  rest  until 
you  have  a  sense  of  your  "acceptance  in  the  beloved."  * 

"Upon  parting  with  him  at  the  door,  I  said,  'Mr.  B.,  do  not  touch 
a  drop  to-morrow,  and  come  the  next  day  to  hear  me  preach.' 

"On  the  following  Sabbath  I  looked  anxiously  around  the  church 
for  my  visitor,  in  whose  welfare  I  was  now  deeply  interested ;  and,  sure 
enough,  over  the  gallery,  not  far  from  the  pulpit,  peered  the  face  and 
head  which  could  not  be  mistaken.  I  had  found  no  difficulty  in  the  se- 
lection of  my  theme,  for  the  only  dark  feature  of  the  conversation  above 
narrated,  was  the  disposition  to  throw  the  blame  of  his  fall  upon  the 
circumstances  which  shaped  his  course.  This  danger  I  now  sought  to 
disclose,  by  choosing  that  passage  from  James  which  reads:  'Let  no 
man  say,  when  he  is  tempted,  I  am  tempted  of  God;  but  every  man  is 
tempted  when  he  is  drawn  away  of  his  own  lust,'  etc.  Tracing  the 
genealogy  of  sin,  as  here  taught,  I  attempted  to  show  that  outward 
temptations  derived  their  power  from  the  inclinations  and  state  of  our 
own  hearts,  as  congenial  therewith ;  that  in  every  case  of  transgression, 
the  sinner  must  assume  the  blame  of  his  own  misconduct;  and  that 
any  attempt,  however  disguised,  to  throw  it  back  upon  God,  involved 
the  highest  absurdity  and  self-contradiction,  and  added,  immensely,  to 
the  guilt  The  following  day  he  called  at  my  door  to  bid  me  adieu,  as 
he  proposed  that  evening  to  return  to  his  home  in  the  West,  and  said, 
'You  preached  that  sermon  for  me,  on  yesterday.' 

"'Yes,'  I  answered,  'for  once  in  my  life  I  was  intensely  personal 
in  the  pulpit ;  I  had  no  one  in  my  thoughts  but  you ;  I  meant  every  word 
to  be  appreciated  by  you.' 

"  'I  thank  you  for  it,'  was  the  response ;  'it  was  exactly  what  I  needed. 
I  see  clearly,  now,  that  I  have  been  the  author  of  my  own  ruin,  and 
have  no  one  to  blame  but  myself.' 

'"Unless  you  distinctly  recognize  your  own  guilt,'  I  answered,  'you 
will  never  deal  honestly  with  God  in  your  repentance.  Take  your  whole 
burden  to  him,  with  perfect  assurance  that  he  will  never  turn  the 
true  penitent  away,  who  pleads  for  mercy  in  the  name  of  Christ,  the 
Redeemer.* 

"Some  years  elapsed — four  of  them  years  of  bitter  sectional  war — 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  187 

ere  I  had  tidings  of  the  poor  returning  prodigal.  But  shortly  after 
my  own  restoration,  from  a  long  exile,  to  my  own  charge,  a  newspaper 
came  to  me,  which,  on  being  unfolded,  contained  a  beautiful  address, 

delivered  at   a   Sabbath-school   anniversary,   in   the   State   of  . 

The  next  mail  brought  me  a  letter  from  my  lost  friend,  stating  that 
he  had  gone  back  to  his  home;  regained  the  practice  of  his  legal  pro- 
fession; had  sought  pardon,  and  had  found  peace  through  the  blood 
of  Christ,  and  was  then  serving  as  the  superintendent  of  the  Sabbath- 
school,  and  as  a  ruling  elder  in  the  House  of  God.  Unfortunately, 
before  this  letter  could  be  answered,  as  my  grateful  heart  prompted, 
it  was  mislaid,  and  the  address  forever  lost.  If,  by  any  chance,  this 
sketch  should  meet  his  eye,  the  writer  prays  that  it  may  be  accepted 
as  an  invitation  to  reopen  the  intercourse  so  abruptly  closed." 

Other  and  equally  striking  illustrations  might  be  given, 
of  his  efficiency  in  dealing  with  individuals.* 

He  had  not  been  a  great  social  visitor  back  in  South  Carolina. 
He  had  been  too  constantly  tense  for  that.  But  he  had  been  a 
good  pastor.  He  had  ever  been  on  the  alert  to  seize  and  to  im- 
prove a  strategic  moment.  Seasons  of  joy  and  particularly  sea- 
sons of  sorrow  had  not  called  in  vain  for  his  presence  and  for 
wise  and  timely  work.  To  pastoral  ministrations  in  seasons  of 
sorrow,  in  New  Orleans,  also,  he  gave  much  time  and  effort. 
The  worse  the  season  of  trial  for  his  people  the  more  certain 
was  he  to  be  at  hand.  He  had  in  him  the  stuff  of  which 
heroes  are  made  and  was  always  ready  to  go  to  any  bedside 
where  his  services  were  needed,  no  matter  what  terrors  lurked 
there.  In  New  Orleans,  the  flowers  bloom  as  beautifully  dur- 
ing the  stalking  of  the  pestilence  as  at  any  other  time;  the 
foliage  is  as  rich  and  luxuriant,  the  sky  is  as  bright;  and  like 
these  other  good  gifts  of  Providence,  Dr.  Palmer  was  there 
with  all  his  kindly  ministrations. 

Yellow  fever  had  prevailed  in  New  Orleans  in  1853,  ^854, 
and  1855.  During  1853,  out  of  a  population  of  one  hundred 
and  iifty-four  thousand,  seven  thousand,  eight  hundred  and 
fort3'-nine  persons  had  died  of  fever,  and  about  twenty-five 
hundred  in  each  of  the  two  succeeding  years.  His  friends 
back  in  South  Carolina  had  held  the  terror  of  the  scourge  over 

*See  "A  Morbid  Experience,"  Southwestern  Presbyterian,  May  27, 
1869. 


i88        Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

his  head  to  dissuade  him  from  going  to  New  Orleans.  In  the 
distance  it  did  not  terrify  him.  Nor  was  he  terrified  by  it 
when  it  began  again  to  cut  down  multitudes  in  the  city  of  his 
choice.  There  seem  to  have  been  only  about  two  hundred 
deaths  from  yellow  fever  in  1857,  ^^^  ^"  ^858  there  were  four 
thousand,  eight  hundred  and  fifty-eight  deaths.  During  this 
year  Dr.  Palmer  became  pastor  of  people  far  beyond  the  pale 
of  his  own  congregation.  Some  of  the  men  of  the  cloth  were 
absent  from  the  city  during  the  awful  summer  and  autumn  of 
1858.  Dr.  Palmer  being  on  the  ground,  in  accord  with  his  view 
that  the  pastor  is  needed  most  just  in  the  hour  of  stress,  pesti- 
lence and  death,  looked  after  not  only  his  own,  but  all  shep- 
herdless  sheep.  Indeed,  it  was  his  custom,  while  on  his  benefi- 
cent rounds,  ministering '  to  his  own  people,  to  enter  every 
house  on  the  way  which  displayed  the  sign  of  fever  within; 
to  make  his  way  quietly  to  the  sick  room,  utter  a  prayer,  offer 
the  consolation  of  the  Gospel,  and  any  other  service  which  it 
was  in  his  power  to  give;  and  then  as  quietly  to  leave.  A 
great  Jewish  Rabbi  of  New  Orleans  says:  "It  was  thus  that 
Palmer  got  the  heart  as  well  as  the  ear  of  New  Orleans.  Men 
could  not  resist  one  who  gave  himself  to  such  ministry  as  this." 
This  work  cost  Dr.  Palmer  not  a  little  as  will  shortly  appear. 

It  will  be  recalled  that  in  his  earlier  charges  Dr.  Palmer 
had  been  a  careful  member  of  the  session;  that  he  was  careful 
in  receiving  members  into  the  Church ;  and  resolute  in  securing 
the  administration  of  discipline  to  those  deser\nng  of  judicial 
censures.  There  are  not  wanting  signs  that  he  carried  the 
same  theory  and  the  same  habits  with  him  into  his  new  field. 
He  had  gone  into  a  field  which  must  have  suggested  changes ; 
but  he  was  no  nose  of  wax.  He  went  about  his  duties  as  a 
ruler  in  the  house  and  kingdom  of  God  tactfully.  While  using 
tact,  he  neither  surrendered,  merged,  nor  concealed  his  prin- 
ciples. Though  desiring  to  live  on  the  best  practicable  terms 
with  Roman  Catholics — the  predominant  element  in  the  popu- 
lation of  New  Orleans — he  continued  to  treat  baptism  as  ad- 
ministered in  that  communion  as  invalid.  A  sessional  decision 
to  the  effect  of  its  invalidity,  embodied  in  the  records,  March 
4,  i860,  may  be  taken  as  illustrative  of  his  bearing  throughout 
the  period  with  regard  to  the  principles  of  Presbyterian  gov- 
ernment generally. 

The  spiritual  care  of  the  blacks  weighed  heavily  upon  Dr. 
Palmer  and  his  session.     In  the  spring  of  1859  ^^^  session 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  189 

passed  a  resolution  to  secure  the  permission  of  the  mayor  for 
the  regular  meeting  of  a  colored  congregation  in  the  lecture 
room  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church.  Soon  after,  Rev.  B. 
Wayne  was  engaged  to  preach  to  the  "blacks."  They  were 
modeling  after  Dr.  Girardeau's  Church  in  Charleston,  S.  C. 
Certain  worthy  and  characterful  blacks  were  made*  leaders 
of  the  colored  people  under  the  missionary  and  session.  Late 
in  December,  1859,  Elder  J.  A.  Maybin  was  put  into  the 
place  previously  thereto  occupied  by  Mr.  Wayne,  who  had 
discontinued  his  services. 

Together  with  his  session,  Dr.  Palmer  took  measures  to 
secure  joint  meetings  of  the  sessions  of  all  the  Presbyterian 
churches  of  the  city  with  the  view  of  conferring  and  praying 
for  the  spread  of  Presbyterianism  throughout  the  city.  In  the 
autumn  of  1859  ^^^  session  is  found  trying  to  locate  a  mission 
Sunday-school.  Such  enterprises,  as  indeed  his  whole  min- 
istry, were  to  be  suspended  before  much  good  could  be  accom- 
plished ;  but  they  are  valuable  as  showing  the  spirit  of  the  man 
and  his  co-rulers  in  the  First  Presbyterian  Church. 

Services  in  behalf  of  the  Church  at  large  constituted  a  part 
of  his  labors  from  the  outset  of  the  New  Orleans  pastorate. 
In  March,  1857,  he  was  made  the  examiner  of  Presbytery  in 
ecclesiastical  history  and  polity,  and  the  sacraments.  In  1858 
he  was  appointed  by  the  Synod  of  Mississippi  as  a  member 
of  its  committee  to  endeavor  to  secure  the  establishment  in 
New  Orleans  of  the  Southwestern  Advisory  Committee  as  a 
branch  of  the  Board  of  Domestic  Missions.  There  was  sore 
need  of  this.  The  four  Southwestern  States  of  Alabama, 
Mississippi,  Louisiana  and  Texas  with  an  area  of  376,637 
square  miles,  and  a  population  of  2,108,502,  had  then  only 
thirty  missionaries,  and  received  from. the  Board  in  the  North- 
east only  $8,255,  while  contributing  toward  its  cause  $5,390.50, 
whereas  four  Northwestern  States,  Illinois,  Indiana,  Iowa  and 
Wisconsin,  with  an  area  of  192,052  square  miles,  and  a  popu- 
lation of  2,337,491,  had  one  hundred  and  ninety-eight  mission- 
aries, received  from  the  Board  $33,192,  while  contributing 
only  $2,812.15.  The  brethren  in  the  Southwest  rejoiced  in 
the  number  and  success  of  the  missionaries  laboring  in  the 
Northwest.  They  understood  that  the  excessive  disproportion 
was  due  to  natural  causes,  in  large  measure  beyond  human  con- 
trol. Dr.  Palmer  himself,  in  1859,  pictured  the  situation  in 
the  following  terms : 


igo       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"The  West  and  Northwest  are  covered  with  a  network  of  railroads, 
by  which  they  are  easily  traversed,  bringing  their  wants  under  the 
public  eye;  while  the  remoteness  and  inaccessibility  of  our  territory 
screen  its  destitution  alike  from  observation  and  from  Christian  sym- 
pathy. The  poverty  of  our  young  ministers,  together  with  the  uncer- 
tainty of  an  immediate  settlement,  operates  as  a  bar  to  their  coming 
to  so  distant  a  region,  and  leads  them  to  prefer  a  field  lying  nearer 
at  hand.  The  debilitating  nature  of  our  climate,  added  to  the  perils  of 
acclimation,  so  prodigiously  exaggerated  abroad,  is  an  ever-present  ar- 
gument against  these  tropical  regions.  Insomuch,  too,  as  the  great 
body  of  our  candidates  for  the  ministry  come  from  the  Northern 
and  Middle  States,  it  is,  perhaps,  natural  they  should  prefer  to  labor 
in  those  parts  of  the  country  where  all  the  institutions  and  usages  of 
society  are  familiar  and  congenial.  They  are  also  attracted  by  the 
promise  of  larger  congregations  afforded  where  the  population  is  more 
dense;  and  can,  with  difficulty,  be  impressed  with  the  representative 
character  of  our  small  assemblages  at  the  South.  It  is,  moreover,  un- 
deniable, and  for  a  lamentation  let  it  be  written,  that  the  purely  mis- 
sionary aspect  of  this  field,  as  embracing  a  very  large  number  of  un- 
tutored blacks,  is  so  much  overlooked.  In  seeking  a  settlement,  our 
young  men  too  generally  prefer  a  field  affording  more  mental  stimulus, 
and  turn  away  from  these  *poor  who  are  ever  with  us,'  in  their  ardor 
after  greater  intellectual  improvement.  All  these  causes,  without  dwell- 
ing upon  others  more  strictly  personal  and  private,  combine  to  cut  off  the 
Southwest  from  that  measure  of  supply  to  which  it  would  seem  fairly 
entitled.  Upon  a  candid  review  of  them,  we  can  fully  exonerate  the 
officers  of  the  Board,  not  only  from  censure,  but  even  from  the  sus- 
picion of  partiality.  We  are  willing  to  believe  the  sincerity  and  depth 
of  their  sympathy,  while  they  behold  our  destitution,  which  they  have 
not  the  power  to  overtake;  and  we  as  distinctly  foresee  that  all  these- 
difficulties  will  embarrass  any  new  and  local  agency  that  shall  go  into 
operation.  But  were  they  tenfold  greater  than  they  are,  it  is  not  pos- 
sible that  those,  whose  lot  Providence  has  cast  within  this  region, 
shall  sit  down  and  succumb  beneath  them.  We  should  be  recreant  to 
the  Church,  and  to  our  divine  Lord  and  Master,  if,  under  these  cir- 
cumstances, the  question  were  not  raised.  What  shall  we  do?  Under 
the  pressure  of  this  great  necessity,  the  proposition  of  a  District  Com- 
mittee, with  its  own  Secretary,  has  been  submitted  to  the  Assembly; 
and  should  nothing  more  be  achieved  by  their  future  labors  than  to 
arouse  the  churches  of  the  Southwest  to  a  more  anxious  and  prayerful 
contemplation  of  their  duty,  and  to  draw  the  attention  of  our  rising 
ministry  more  largely  to  this  neglected  territory,  even  these  results 
will  justify  the  action  of  the  Assembly  in  their  appointment." 

The  Assembly  of  1859  ordered  the  establishment  of  this 
Committee,  an  order  which  was  executed  in  November  of  that 
year.     Soon  thereafter  we  find  that  in  his  church  the  third 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  191 

Monday  evening  of  each  month  is  observed  as  a  time  for 
prayer  and  contributions  for  domestic  missions  under  the  con- 
trol of  the  Advisory  Committee  of  the  Southwest. 

By  the  Synod  which  met  in  January,  1861,  he  was  appointed, 
along  with  two  other  ministers,  to  prepare  a  pastoral  letter 
on  the  subject  of  Home  Missions ;  with  the  result  that  a  ring- 
ing letter  of  the  sort  desired  was  sent  forth. 

He  was  early  made  Chairman  of  the  Board  of  Trustees  of 
the  Synodical  Depository.  He  was  made  commissioner  to  the 
Assemblies  of  1858  and  1859,  Thus  honors  and  duties  crowded 
thickly  upon  him.  He  took  quickly  and  easily  the  very  first 
place  not  only  in  his  city  and  Presbytery,  but  in  his  Synod 
and  in  the  vast  section  of  the  Southwest. 

During  these  years  in  New  Orleans  his  pen  was  not  alto- 
gether idle.  It  was  employed  not  only  in  the  production  of 
carefully  prepared  briefs  week  after  week,  and  of  special  ser- 
mons and  lectures,  but  of  occasional  review  articles.  The 
chief  ecclesiastical  article  was  one  of  ninety-two  pages  in 
the  Southern  Presbyterian  Quarterly,  on  "The  GeneraJ  Assem- 
bly of  1859," — a  very  elaborate  and  able  review  of  the  doings 
of  that  body.  He  excites  a  degree  of  surprise  in  the  reader, 
who  has  been  accustomed  to  associate  soundness  of  doctrine 
with  the  name  of  Dr.  Nathan  L.  Rice,  when  he  teaches  that,  in 
the  opening  sermon,  that  noted  polemic  and  divine  had  made  a 
slip  as  to  the  nature  of  the  intellectual  assent  involved  nn  sav- 
ing faith.  Dr.  Rice  had  seemed  to  make  true  faith,  intellect- 
ually considered,  to  be  specifically  the  same  as  speculative 
assent.  His  critic  claims  that  in  accord  with  evangelical  con- 
fessions and  the  Scriptures,  "the  assent  which  characterizes 
true  faith  is  specifically  diflferent  from  the  assent  of  the  un- 
godly, a  cognition  in  which  the  affection  of  the  heart  enters 
as  an  essential  element;  and  is  not  superadded  as  something 
separate  and  distinct;"  that  it  is  with  the  heart  that  man  be- 
lieveth  unto  righteousness;  and  that  the  immediate  ground 
of  cognition  is  the  supernatural  illumination  of  the  Spirit. 
He  handles  Dr.  Rice  with  the  greatest  deference  but  he  handles 
him  with  no  less  skill  than  deference. 

He  gives  a  full  and  critical  account  of  the  Assembly's  deal- 
ing with  the  various  Boards  in  the  Church  in  1859,  showing 
that  they  were  criticised  as  freely  as  any  modern  committees 
are.  It  has  already  appeared  that  the  Synod  of  Mississippi 
was  very  desirous  of  having  a  branch  of  the  Board  of  Domes- 


192        Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

tic  Missions  located  in  New  Orleans.  The  matter  had  been 
pressed  before  the  Assembly  of  1858.  It  was  again  and  suc- 
cessfully advocated  before  the  Assembly  of  1859. 

The  opponents  of  the  measure  intimated  that  the  move- 
ment originated  in  sectional  design;  claimed  that  it  militated 
against  the  unity  of  the  effort  to  evangelize  the  whole  country, 
and  that  it  rested  upon  the  false  assumption  that  the  Board 
was  insufficient  to  accomplish  its  work ;  they  stressed  the  point 
that  the  missionary  operations  depended  upon  the  Presbyteries 
which  could  act  through  a  common  central  agency  as  well  as 
through  agencies  near  at  hand.  Dr.  Palmer  tells  us  in  his 
review  article  the  substance  of  his  plea  for  the  establishment 
of  the  Committee: 

"Against  these  positions,  Dr.  Palmer  averred  that  this  movement  did 
not  originate  in  any  sectional  design,  but  was  intended  merely  to 
lengthen  the  arm  of  the  Board,  so  that  it  might  reach  over  the  distant 
Southwest.  The  moneys  raised  would  all  be  acknowledged  in  the  re- 
ceipts of  the  Board,  and  be  under  their  control;  though  necessarily, 
for  a  considerable  time,  they  must  be  disbursed  upon  that  field.  Special 
reasons  might  be  urged  for  this  arrangement  at  the  Southwest,  as  the 
difficulties  in  the  way  of  evangelizing  that  region  were  somewhat  pe- 
culiar. The  country  itself  was  very  remote  from  the  center  of  the 
Church's  operations,  and  could  be  reached  only  after  a  week's  travel. 
The  facilities  for  communicating  with  the  interior  were  few,  so  that  its 
exploration  would  be  a  work  of  toil  and  time.  The  population  was 
exceedingly  heterogeneous,  with  a  singular  admixture  of  strange  and 
foreign  habits.  Over  a  large  portion  of  this  region  a  false  and  Joreign 
religion  still  held  the  dominant  sway.  In  some  of  these  States  there 
were  no  laws  to  enforce  the  observance  of  the  Sabbath;  and  a  Chris- 
tian public  sentiment  must,  to  a  large  extent,  be  created.  The  people  of 
God  were  few  in  number;  and  the  wealth  of  the  country,  lying  chiefly 
outside  of  the  Church,  could  only  be  drawn  out  by  persons  known  to 
the  givers,  and  could  not  be  reached  by  general  appeals  from  Philadel- 
phia. More  than  all,  it  was  the  door  opening  into  a  vast  outlying 
territory,  extending  to  the  isthmus  in  one  direction,  and  to  the  Pacific 
ocean  in  the  other;  a  territory  which,  whether  it  shall  be  hereafter  in- 
corporated into  this  Union  or  not,  must  be  overtaken  by  the  Gospel, 
and  that,  too,  through  our  instrumentality,  in  connection  with  other 
branches  of  the  Christian  Church.  It  was  of  little  use  for  the  general 
Secretary  to  run  down  and  touch  here  and  there  a  few  points  upon  the 
border  of  this  great  and  destitute  missionary  region.  A  district 
Secretary  was  needed,  who  should  go  patiently  to  work,  explore 
the  whole  territory,  ascertain  its  wants,  and  where  missionaries  could 
advantageously  be  located,  raise  funds  for  their  support,  visit  our 
theological  schools,  and  awaken  an  interest  in  the  hearts  of  our  can- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  193 

didates  for  the  ministry.  By  such  considerations,  showing  that  the  only 
purpose  had  in  view  was  to  aid  the  Board  of  Domestic  Missions  in 
that  distant  and  difficult  region,  and  not  to  impair  the  unity  of  the 
Church,  the  measure  was  carried  in  the  Assembly  by  an  overwhelming 
vote." 

One  of  the  most  interesting  debates  in  the  Assembly  of 
1859  ^^^  precipitated  over  the  Revised  Book  of  Discipline. 
Dr.  Thomwell  was  the  Chairman  of  the  Revision  Committee, 
and  delivered  one  of  his  lucid  and  powerful  addresses,  speak- 
ing only  to  certain  general  principles  embodied  in  the  Revised 
Book.  After  reporting  this  and  other  speeches  pro  and  con. 
Dr.  Palmer  comments  somewhat  at  lengtibi  on  views  embodied 
in  the  Revised  Book;  and  amongst  others,  on  the  relations  of 
baptized  members  to  the  Church.  On  this  subject  his  reflec- 
tions were  enough  like  the  views  subsequently  embodied  in  the 
Standards  of  the  Southern  Presbyterian  Church  to  suggest, 
what  may  afterwards  appear,  that  his  views  were  determinative 
in  the  framing  of  those  portions  of  our  Standards : 

"The  second  proposition  of  the  Committee,  touching  the  relations 
of  baptized  members  to  the  Church,  is  perhaps  the  most  embarrassed 
with  difficulties,  and  is  the  change  upon  which  the  Church  most  anx- 
iously seeks  lis^t  and  guidance.  The  stringent  doctrine  advocated  by 
some,  that  baptized  youth,  upon  arriving  at  years  of  discretion,  are  to 
be  constrained,  upon  penalty  of  excommunication,  to  consummate  their 
tmion  with  the  Church,  we  dare  to  affirm,  never  can  prevail  in  the 
Presbyterian  Church  of  this  country,  simply  because  the  true  idea  of 
the  Church,  as  a  spiritual  body,  is  more  distinctly  apprehended  here 
than  elsewhere.  With  all  the  deference  we  are  accustomed  to  pay 
to  the  mother  Church  of  Scotland  and  Ireland,  in  this  particular  it 
cannot  be  denied  that  the  American  Church  is  immeasurably  in  the  ad- 
vance. She  cannot,  therefore,  stand  by  the  side  of  a  baptized  youth  and 
say,  with  or  without  the  spiritual  qualifications  you  must,  under  pain 
of  excommunication,  seal  your  connection  with  the  Church  by  approach- 
ing the  Lord's  table.  Nor  can  she,  recognizing  the  sovereignty  of  divine 
grace  both  as  to  the  time  and  manner  of  its  bestowal,  undertake  to 
limit  the  probation  of  such  an  one;  and  say,  at  any  one  moment,  now 
this  matter  of  your  conversion  is  to  be  taken  into  your  own  hands,  and 
now  the  exhausted  patience  of  the  Church  refuses  any  longer  to  in- 
dulge your  procrastination.  She  may,  with  tears  of  affection,  press 
upon  his  conscience  the  exhortations  of  God's  word,  and  urge  the 
promises  of  Jehovah's  covenant;  but  she  has  no  authority  from  her 
divine  Head  to  urge  him,  without  the  necessary  qualifications,  to  pass 
into  the  inner  sanctuary;  nor  yet,  if  he  should  refuse  to  hear,  to  thrust 
him  out  into  the  court  of  the  Gentiles.    From  her  prevailing  practice 

13 


194       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

in  this  particular,  we  have  no  idea  that  the  American  Presbyterian 
Church,  with  her  conception  of  a  spiritual  religion,  will  ever  be  induced 
to  swerve. 

''On  the  other  hand,  there  is  floating  in  the  mind  of  the  Church  the 
impression  that  our  baptized  youth  are,  in  such  a  sense,  amenable  to 
the  discipline  of  the  Church,  that  her  authority  may  and  should,  in 
some  way,  be  brought  to  bear  upon  their  lives.  How  far  this  disci- 
pline should  be  carried,  and  in  what  form  it  should  be  administered,  are 
precisely  the  points  which  the  Church  has  never  settled  to  her  own 
satisfaction,  and  it  is  probably  this  want  of  precision  and  definiteness 
which  has  led  to  almost  the  universal  neglect  of  all  discipline.  There 
is,  however,  lying  in  many  minds,  a  painful  apprehension  that  in  this 
neglect  the  Church  is  criminal,  and  multitudes  are  anxeusly  seeking 
their  way  through  the  difficulties  which  environ  this  whole  subject. 
We  are  persuaded  that  the  shyness  of  the  Church  in  taking  up  the 
Revised  Book  of  Discipline  is,  to  some  extent,  explained  by  the  em- 
barrassment we  have  just  indicated.  On  the  one  hand,  not  prepared 
to  adopt  the  rigid  discipline  based  by  some  upon  a  strict  construction 
of  the  phraseology  of  the  present  book;  on  the  other  hand,  not  pre- 
pared to  relax  her  hold  entirely  upon  her  baptized  members,  the  Church 
considerately  pauses  to  see  if  there  be  no  via  media  between  these 
extremes.  Now,  the  proposition  of  the  committee,  which  we  under- 
stand to  be  a  medium  between  these  conflicting  views,  seems  to  us  very 
nearly  to  meet  the  difficulty,  and  we  venture  modestly  to  suggest  that 
if  the  committee,  in  its  further  deliberations,  will  render  their  middle 
ground  a  little  more  definite  and  clear,  it  will  go  far  to  harmonize  the 
Church,  and  prepare  the  way  for  a  final  deliverance  upon  this  subject 
We  understand  their  position  to  be,  that  while  baptized  persons  are 
members  of  the  Church,  and  are  under  its  care  and  government,  they 
are  not  proper  subjects  of  judicial  process;  that  is  to  say,  discipline  may 
be  taken  in  a  wide  or  in  a  narrow  sense,  so  that  they  shall  be  under  it 
in  the  one  sense  and  not  in  the  other.  Now,  if  the  committee  shall 
be  able  to  define  in  what  form  discipline  shall  be  administered  without 
judicial  process — ^how  the  Church  in  the  exercise  of  authority  may  take 
cognizance  of  flagrant  immoralities  in  her  baptized  members,  so  as 
to  distinguish  between  them  and  communicating  members,  they  will 
succeed  in  untying  the  Gordian  knot,  and  the  Church  will  probably  come 
without  hesitation  to  her  decision.  The  difficulty  is  a  real  one,  to  which 
side  soever  we  choose  to  turn.  The  conscience  of  the  Church  is  sorely 
tried  on  the  one  hand  by  the  discordance  between  her  present  neglect 
of  all  discipline  and  the  rigid  requirements  of  the  existing  book;  on 
the  other  hand,  the  nature  and  degree  of  the  government  and  discipline 
recognized  by  the  Revised  Book,  are  so  undefined  as  to  afford  no  work- 
ing rule  by  which  the  discretion  of  the  Church  can  be  guided.  We 
greatly  fear  that  the  committee  may  yield  to  a  reaction  of  feeling,  and 
may  expunge  all  this  portion  of  the  revised  code.    This  we  would  de- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  195 

plore,  and  respectfully  submit,  that  to  remand  the  Church  to  the  pro- 
visions of  the  old  book  will  not,  in  the  least  degree,  help  the  matter, 
since  the  difficulty  in  the  recognition  and  practice  of  these  is  fully  as 
great  as  with  the  suggestions  they  have  ventured  in  their  revision," 

There  were  several  articles  produced  in  the  period,  some  o£ 
which  will  receive  incidental  notice  in  the  pages  to  follow. 

It  was  inevitable  that  he  should  be  called  upon  for  occa- 
sional sermons  and  addresses.  One  of  the  ablest  and  most 
elegant  of  thesfe  was  delivered  before  the  Fayette  Female 
Academy,  July  28, 1859,  upon  "Female  Excellence."  He  pleads 
for  woman's  cultivation  in  the  features  of  elegance,  of  grace, 
of  a  richly  stored  and  highly  trained  mind,  of  well  regu- 
lated affections,  of  sincere  piety^  and  of  power  to  appreciate 
labor,  and  to  consecrate  herself  to  it.  The  address  was  pub- 
lished in  pamphlet  form  by  the  Trustees  of  the  institution. 

By  far  tiie  most  noted  occasional  sermon  of  the  period  was 
his  last  "Thanksgiving  Sermon,"  preached  in  i860;  but  of 
that  sermon,  its  reception,  and  influence,  we  shall  read  in  the 
next  chapter. 


CHAPTER  XL 

ANTE-BELLUM  PERIOD  IN  NEW   ORLEANS, -Continued, 

December,  1856 — May,  1861.) 

'The  State  of  the  Country  in  November,  i860. — Dr.  Palmer's  Views 
ON  the  Subject  of  Secession. — ^The  Action  of  South  Carolina, 
November  and  December,  i860. — Palmer,  a  Son  of  South  Caro- 
lina, UNDER  THE  StRESS  OF  THE  TiMES  PrEACHES  SoUTH   CaROUNA 

Politics:  His  Famous  Thanksgiving  Sermon. — ^The  Reception 
Accorded  the  Sermon  by  His  Audience,  and  by  the  Wider  Pub- 
lic.— His  Domestic  History,  during  this  Period. — His  Labors  as 
A  Comforter. — Honors  Accorded  Him. 

THE  autumn  of  i860  was  a  critical  time  in  the  history  of 
the  United  States.  The  country  had  just  passed  through 
its  most  heated  political  canvass.  A  party  had  ridden  into 
power  which,  in  the  belief  of  Southern  men,  and  of  many 
Northern  men  as  well,  threatened  the  liberties  of  the  people,  the 
stability  and  even  the  life,  of  republican  institutions.  For 
decades  men  had  believed  in  the  right  of  States  to  secede  from 
the  Federal  Union  upon  provocation  which  they  deemed  to  be 
adequate.  The  men  of  the  South,  generally,  still  maintained 
the  right.    Dr.  Palmer  was  of  this  belief. 

Being  a  South  Carolinian,  the  belief  came  to  him  as  an  in- 
heritance; but  it  had  become  his^also  as  a  student  of  Amer- 
ican history.  The  political  faith  which  he  entertained  at  this 
time,  hesexpounded,  early  in  the  year  1861,  in  rejoinder  to  the 
somewhat  confused  teachings  of  the  Rev.  Dr.  Robt.  J.  Breck- 
enridge,  on  secession.     After  certain  preliminaries  he  said: 

"The  dispute  is  whether  this  sovereignty  (JHs  summi  imperii)  re- 
sides in  the  people  as  they  are,  merged  into  the  mass,  one  undivided 
whole;  or  in  the  people  as  they  were  originally  formed  into  colonies, 
and  afterwards  into  States,  combining  together  for  the  purposes  dis- 
tinctly set  forth  in  their  instruments  of  Union.  Dr.  Breckenridge 
maintains  the  former  thesis;  we  defend  the  latter;  and  in  the  whole 
controversy  upon  the  legal  right  of  secession  this  is  the  cardo  causae. 

"What,  then,  is  the  testimony  of  history?  We  find  the  first  Con- 
tinental Congress,  at  New  York,  in  1765,  called  at  the  suggestion 
of  the  House  of  Representatives  of  Massachusetts,  and  composed 
of  deputies  from  all  the  Colonial  Assemblies  represented  therein.  We 
find,  in  1773,  at  the  instance  of  the  Virginia  House  of  Burgesses,  the 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans,  197 

different  Colonial  Assemblies  appointing  Standing  Committees  of  Cor- 
spondence,  through  whom  a  confidential  communication  was  kept  up 
between  the  Colonies.  We  find  the  votes  in  the  Continental  Congress 
of  1774,  at  Philadelphia,  cast  by  Colonies,  each  being  restricted  to 
one  only.  We  find  in  the  celebrated  Declaration  of  Independence, 
in  1776,  'the  Representatives  of  the  United  States,  in  General  Congress, 
assembled,'  publishing  and  declaring  'in  the  name  and  by  the  authority 
of  the  people  of  these  Colonies.'  We  find  the  Articles  of  Confederation, 
matured  in  1777,  remanded  to  the  local  legislatures,  and  ratified  by 
the  several  States — ^by  Maryland,  not  until  1781.  The  circular  in 
which  this  form  of  confederation  was  submitted,  requests  the  States 
'to  authorize  their  delegates  in  Congress  to  subscribe  the  same  in  be- 
half of  the  State,'  and  solicits  the  dispassionate  attention  of  the  Leg- 
islatures of  the  respective  States,  under  a  sense  of  the  difficulty  of 
combining  in  one  general  system  the  various  sentiments  and  interests- 
of  a  continent  divided  into  so  many  sovereign  and  independent  com- 
munities. ^  We  recite  these  familiar  facts  to  show  that  during  the 
first  period  of  our  history,  embracing  the  revolutionary  struggle,  the 
people  were  accustomed  to  act,  not  as  an  organic  whole,  but  as  con- 
stituting separate  States,  and  combining  for  common  and  specified 
ends.  Indeed,  it  could  not  be  otherwise.  Upon  throwing  off  their 
allegiance  to  the  British  crown,  and  the  sovereignty  reverting  to  them- 
selves, they  were  not  destitute  of  a  political  organization  through 
which  to  act  They  had  existed  as  organized,  though  not  independent, 
communities  before.  What  more  natural,  in  their  transition  to  new 
political  relations,  than  to  stand  forth  the  communities  they  actually 
were?  As  separate  Colonies  they  had  been  dependencies  of  the 
British  crown:  when  that  dependence  was  thrown  aside,  in  whom 
could  the  original  sovereignty  reside,  but  in  the  people,  who  were 
now  no  longer  Colonies,  but  States — in  which  form  of  existence  the 
people  are  first  represented  to  our  view?  The  fact  that  they  com- 
bined against  a  common  foe,  and  to  secure  their  independence  together, 
does  not  impeach  their  inherent  sovereignty.  It  remains  perfectly 
discretionary  with  them — ^that  is,  with  the  people,  as  States — ^to  de- 
termine how  much  of  this  sovereignty  they  will  retain,  and  how  much 
they  will  surrender,  in  the  arrangements  afterwards  made.  In  the 
language  of  Chief  Justice  Jay,  quoted  by  Mr.  Story,  'thirteen  sover- 
eignties were  considered  as  emerging  from  the  principles  of  the  Revo- 
lution combined  by  local  convenience  and  considerations — though  they 
continued  to  manage  their  national  concerns  as  'one  people.'  We  ac- 
cordingly reverse  Dr.  Breckenridge's  proposition;  we  are  not  'one  Na- 
tion divided  into  many  States,'  but  we  are  many  States  uniting  to  form 
one  nation. 

"But  let  us  see  how  the  matter  stands  from  the  period  of  the  old 
Confederation  to  the  adoption  of  the  present  Constitution,   in   1787. 

*  Story's  History  of  the  Confederation. 


198       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

When  the  former  was  found  to  be  breaking  down  from  its  own  im- 
becility, and  the  necessity  of  a  more  perfect  union  was  becoming 
apparent,  it  is  curious  to  see  how  the  pathway  was  opened  through 
the  almost  accidental  action  of  State  Legislatures.  In  1785,  commission- 
ers were  appointed  by  the  States  of  Virginia  and  Maryland  to  form,  a 
scheme  for  promoting  the  navigation  of  the  River  Potomac  and  the 
Chesapeake  Bay.  As  they  felt  the  need  of  more  enlarged  powers  to 
provide  a  local  naval  force,  and  the  tariff  of  duties  upon  imports,  this 
grew  into  an  invitation  from  Virginia  to  the  other  States  to  hold  a 
convention  for  the  purpose  of  establishing  a  general  system  of  com- 
mercial relations — ^and  this,  at  length,  at  the  instance  of  New  York, 
was  enlarged,  so  as  to  provide  for  the  revision  and  reform  of  the 
articles  of  the  old  Federal  Compact.  Thus  grew  up,  by  successive 
steps,  the  Convention  which  met  at  Philadelphia  in  1787,  by  which  the 
present  Constitution  was  drafted,  submitted  to  Congress  as  the 
common  organ  of  the  States,  and  by  it  referred  for  ratification 
to  these  States  respectively.  Here  we  have  the  same  great  principle  of 
the  sovereignty  of  the  people,  as  they  are  States,  clearly  recognized. 
The  tentative  efforts  toward  improving  the  interior  conunercial  re- 
lations of  the  country,  are  initiated  by  two  State  Legislatures;  by  a 
third,  a  Convention  of  Delegates  from  all  the  States  is  suggested; 
and  the  new  Constitution  is  finally  debated  and  ratified  by  separate  Con- 
ventions of  the  people  in  each — North  Carolina  withholding  her  assent 
till  1789,  and  Rhode  Island  till  1790.  This  historical  review  seems, 
to  us,  conclusive  of  the  point  in  hand.  The  people — not  as  one,  but  as 
thirteen — revolt  from  the  English  yoke;  because  only  as  thirteen, 
and  not  as  one,  did  they  ever  owe  allegiance.  The  people — ^not  as  one, 
but  as  thirteen — ^unite  to  carry  on  a  defensive  and  successful  war; 
granting  to  the  Continental  Congress  just  the  powers  they  saw  fit — 
neither  more  nor  less — as  their  common  agent.  The  people — ^not  as  one, 
but  as  thirteen — ^prepare  and  adopt  Articles  of  Confederation,  under 
which  they  manage  their  common  concerns  for  seven  years.  And 
finally — not  as  one,  but  again  as  thirteen — ^they  frame  and  adopt  a 
permanent  Constitution;  under  which  they  have  lived  for  seventy 
years,  and  have  grown  from  thirteen  to  thirty-four.  But  suppose 
the  two  dilatory  States,  which  withheld  their  assent  to  the  Constitution 
for  two  and  three  years,  had  withheld  it  altogether.  What  then?  Why, 
says  Dr.  Breckenridge,  'they  would  have  passed  by  common  consent 
into  a  new  condition,  and  have  become,  for  the  first  time,  separate 
sovereignty  to  any  State,  'except  as  they  are  united  States.'  How,  then, 
but  not  separate  in  the  sense  of  being  distinct  But  he  has  denied 
sovereignty  to  Miy  State,  'except  as  they  are  United  States.'  How,  then, 
shall  these  two  States,  who,  by  supposition,  refused  to  be  united,  be- 
come sovereign?  *By  common  consent,*  says  Dr.  Breckenridge,  *thcy 
will  pass  into  that  condition.'  But  on  what  is  this  common  consent 
to  be  based?    Why  not  coerce  them  into  the  Union,  if  the  people  is  one 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  199 

Nation,  and  these  States  are  fractions  of  that  Union?  Certainly  it  is 
just  because  their  refusal  to  concur  would  be  an  exercise  of  sovereign- 
ty, and  it  must  needs  be  recognized  as  such.  Yet,  if  the  refusal  to 
concur  would  be  an  act  of  sovereignty,  then,  by  equality  of  reason, 
was  their  agreement  to  concur  an  act  of  sovereignty.  In  either  case, 
the  people  of  these  two  States — and  so  of  all  the  others — ^were  ante- 
cedently and  distinctively  sovereign;  and  hence,  could  not  owe  their 
sovereignty  to  the  Union  which  they  themselves  created.  It  is  reason- 
ing in  a  circle  to  say  that  the  States  are  sovereign  only  as  they  are 
United  States,  when  by  the  force  of  the  term,  as  well  as  by  the  ex- 
press testimony  of  history,  they  are  united  only  by  a  Union  which  is 
created  in  the  exercise  of  their  sovereignty.  We  commend  this  fact 
to  the  attention  of  Consolidationists :  that  two  States  did,  for  the 
term  of  three  years,  delay  to  come  into  the  Union  under  the  G>nsti- 
tution,  although  they  were  previously  in  it  under  the  Confederation. 
It  clearly  proves  that  the  people  formed  the  Constitution  as  States,  and 
not  as  a  Consolidated  nation.  And  that  these  States  were  not  merely 
election  districts,  into  which  the  one  nation  was  conveniently  distributed 
— but  were  organized  communities,  invested  with  the  highest  attri- 
butes of  sovereignty,  which  they  exercised  again  and  again,  by  and 
through  their  supreme  Conventions.  If,  as  States,  they  could  legally 
refuse  to  come  into  the  Union,  why  may  they  not  as  legally  withdraw 
from  it?  Upon  the  law  maxim,  'expressio  unius  est  exclusio  alterius' 
this  attribute  of  sovereignty  remains,  unless  in  the  instrument  it  can 
be  shown  to  be  explicitly  resigned. 

"It  is  plain,  then,  that  before  and  at  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution, 
these  States  were  independent  and  sovereign.  Have  they  ceased  to  be 
such  by  their  assent  to  that  instrument?  Or,  is  the  Federal  Union 
simply  a  covenant  between  the  people  of  these  States  for  mutual  bene- 
fits, and  under  conditions  that  are  distinctly  entered  into  the  bond? 
Let  us  see.  Much  stress  is  laid  upon  the  use  of  the  words,  'the  people,' 
in  the  preamble  of  the  Constitution — conveying,  it  is  alleged,  the  idea 
of  an  undivided  nationality.  It  is,  however,  a  plain  canon  of  inter- 
pretation, that  particular  terms  are  to  be  explained  by  the  context  in 
which  they  occur.  This  preamble  further  states,  that  'we,  the  people,' 
are  'the  people  of  the  United  States;'  a  title  evidently  intended  to  em- 
body the  history  of  the  formation  of  the  Union  as  a  congressus  of 
States,  which,  by  aggregation,  make  up  one  people.  In  proof  of  this, 
it  is  a  title  simply  transferred  from  the  old  Confederation,  when  no 
one  denies  that  the  States  were  separate  and  independent  This  fact 
is  conclusive.  As  the  Nation  is  formed  by  the  confluence  of  States, 
a  periphrastic  title  is  given,  which  defines  the  character  of  this  nation- 
ality, as  not  being  consolidated,  but  federated.  It  is  not  a  little  remark- 
able, that  no  other  title  is  employed  throughout  the  Constitution  but 
this  of  "United  States;'  the  composition  of  which,  historically,  de- 
scribes confederation,  and  discriminates  against  consolidation.     How 


200       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

does  it  happen,  if  the  idea  of  a  nation,  as  composed  of  individuals, 
simply  districted  into  States,  is  the  fundamental  idea,  not  only  that  a 
baptismal  name  was  withheld  which  should  embody  that  conception, 
but  that,  on  the  contrary,  a  composite  title  was  given,  which  marks 
precisely  the  opposite? 

"Let  us  now  pass  from  the  vestibule,  and  examine  the  framework 
of  the  Constitution  itself.  The  first  section  of  Article  I.  vests  the 
Legislative  power  in  a  Congress  consisting  of  two  Chambers,  a  Senate 
and  House  of  Representatives.  In  the  latter,  population  is  repre- 
sented. But  what  population  ?  the  people  of  the  Nation  as  a  unit,  or  the 
people  of  the  States?  Unquestionably,  the  latter:  for  Section  4  pro- 
vides that  'the  time,  places  and  manner  of  holding  the  election  shall 
be  prescribecT  in  each  State  by  the  Legislature  thereof.'  Should  a 
vacancy  occur,  'writs  of  election  are  to  be  issued  by  the  executive 
authority  of  each  State.*  Thus  the  States,  individually,  direct  the 
election,  and  count  and  declare  the  vote.  Plainly,  this  is  done  by  the 
States,  either  as  mere  election  districts,  or  else  as  organized  Communi- 
ties, in  the  exercise  of  a  supreme  right.  In  addition  to  what  has  al- 
ready been  urged,  the  fact  of  apportioning  these  representatives  to  the 
States  respectively,  according  to  the  population  of  each,  concludes 
against  the  theory  that  the  people  are  fused  into  the  mass,  and  de- 
termines for  the  idea  that,  under  the  Constitution,  as  before  its  adop- 
tion, the  people  represented  are  the  people  of  the  States  in  Congress 
assembled.  In  the  Senate  the  case  is  still  clearer,  for  these  States 
are  represented  as  such,  all  being  placed  upon  the  same  footing,  the 
largest  having  no  more  power  than  the  least.  If  you  turn  to  the 
Executive  branch  of  the  Government,  the  President  and  Vice  Presi- 
dent are  chosen  by  the  people,  indeed,  but  still  by  the  people  as  con- 
stituting States.  The  electors  must  equal  in  number  the  representation 
which  the  State  enjoys  in  Congress;  and  they  must  be  chosen  in 
such  manner  as  each  State,  through  its  Legislature,  shall  determine. 
(Con.,  Art  II.)  Should  the  election  fail  with  the  people,  it  must  go 
into  the  Congressional  House  of  Representatives,  with  the  remarkable 
provision,  that  the  'vote  is  there  to  be  taken  by  States,  the  repre- 
sentation from  each  State  having  one  vote.*  Why  so,  if  not  to  fore- 
stall the  possibility,  through  the  inequality  of  the  Statrs  in  that  cham- 
ber, of  a  President  being  chosen  by  a  numerical  majority  merely, 
without  being  chosen  by  a  concurrent  majority  of  the  States?  We 
submit  to  the  candor  of  the  reader,  if  these  constitutional  provisions 
are  not  framed  upon  the  conception  that  the  people  are  contemplated 
as  States,  and  not  as  condensed  into  a  nation.  If  this  latter  were 
the  fundamental  idea,  could  arrangements  be  made  more  effectively 
to  conceal  or  to  cancel  it? 

"But  it  is  urged  that,  in  the  adoption  of  the  Constitution,  the  States 
have  remitted,  in  great  part,  their  sovereignty;  and  have  clothed  the 
General  Government  with  supreme  authority  in  the  powers  they  have 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  201 

conferred.  'Congress  shall  have  power/  says  the  Constitution  (Sec.  8, 
Art.  I.)  'to  levy  and  collect  taxes,  to  regulate  commerce,  to  coin 
money,  to  declare  war,  to  negotiate  peace,'  and  the  like;  all  which, 
it  is  alleged,  are  the  acts  of  a  sovereign.  Precisely  so:  Congress  shall 
have  the  executive  power;  but  the  Constitution  does  not  say  the 
inherent  right.  The  distinction  between  these  two  goes  to  the  bottom 
of  the  case,  and  will  clear  up  much  prevalent  misconception.  The 
people  of  the  States  have  not  parted  with  one  jot  or  tittle  of  their 
original  sovereignty.  According  to  primitive  republicanism,  it  is  im- 
possible they  should  do  so.  It  exists  unimpaired,  just  where  it  always 
resided,  in  the  people  constituting  States.  But  these  States,  sustaining 
many  relations  to  each  other  and  to  foreign  nations,  concur  to  manage 
those  external  matters  in  common.  In  their  confederation  for  this 
purpose,  they  create  an  organ  common  to  them  all.  To  that  agent  they 
confide  certain  trusts,  which  are  particularly  enumerated;  and  that  it 
may  be  competent  to  discharge  the  same,  they  invest  it  with  certain 
powers,  which  are  carefully  defined.  They  consent  to  put  a  certain 
limitation  upon  the  exercise  of  their  individual  sovereignty,  so  far  as 
to  abstain  from  the  functions  assigned  to  this  common  agent  They 
come  under  a  mutual  pledge  to  recognize  and  to  sustain  this  established 
Constitution,  quoad  its  purposes,  as  the  paramount  law.  But  all  this 
by  no  means  implies  the  delegation  of  their  sovereignty  to  the  general 
government.  Power  is  often  conferred  upon  municipal  corporations 
to  perform  certain  functions  pertaining  to  sovereignty — as,  for  example, 
the  power  of  taxation.  But  who  ever  dreamed  that  these  corporations 
became  thus  ipso  facto  sovereigns;  or  that  the  State,  in  conferring 
such  charters,  remitted  any  portion  of  its  supremacy?  In  like  manner, 
the  several  States,  in  granting  these  powers  to  Congress,  granted  them 
in  trust,  for  purposes  purely  executive:  retaining  the  right  inherent  in 
themselves  to  revoke  these  powers,  and  to  cancel  at  will  the  instrument 
by  which  they  are  conveyed.  We  confess  our  inability  to  understand 
this  doctrine  of  a  double  sovereignty:  a  sovereignty  which,  while  it 
is  delegated  to  the  general  government,  is  nevertheless  supreme;  and 
a  sovereignty  which,  while  it  is  retained  by  the  States  as  a  part  of  their 
original  inheritance,  is  nevertheless  subordinate.  The  very  terms  of 
either  proposition  appear  to  be  solecisms.  Sovereignty,  however  limited 
it  may  be  in  actual  exercise,  is  simple,  and  incapable  of  distribution. 
It  is  a  still  greater  contradiction  to  speak  of  a  sovereign  who  is  under 
subjection  to  a  superior  authority.  We  can  very  well  understand  how 
several  sovereignties  shall  unite  upon  schemes  which  can  only  be  exe- 
cuted by  a  restraint  voluntarily  imposed ;  but  not  how  they  shall  create  a 
power  that  is  superior  to  them  all.  Accordingly,  we  find  the  Constitution 
providing  in  its  very  last  article  for  *the  establishment  of  this  Consti- 
tution*— ^not  over,  but  'between — the  States  ratifying  the  same.'  The 
distinction  between  these  two  propositions  is  not  metaphysical,  but 
immensely  practical  and  substantive.     The   first   would  establish   the 


202       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

government  of  a  superior  over  subjects  who  obey ;  the  second  establishes 
a  common  law  between  equals  who  recognize  and  sustain.  Still  more 
emphatic  is  the  tenth  amendment  to  the  Constitution,  which  specifies 
that  'all  powers  not  delegated  to  the  United  States  are  reserved  to  the 
States  respectively,  or  to  the  people/  This  betrays  the  jealousy  which 
watched  over  the  formation  of  the  Union,  showing  the  grant  to  the 
general  government  to  be  a  grant  of  specified  and  executive  powers, 
while  all  the  rest  remains,  by  inherent  right,  with  the  States  in  their 
local  and  permanent  organization,  or  with  the  people  of  those  States 
in  their  primal  and  inalienable  sovereignty. 

"This  exposition  of  the  relation  of  the  States  to  the  Federal  Union, 
is  confirmed  by  the  debates  in  the  Convention  which  formed  the  Con- 
stitution, in  1787.  Aware  of  the  weakness  of  the  existing  Confederation, 
it  is  not  strange  that  a  party  arose  desirous  of  strengthening  the  central 
power.  It  was  urged  against  the  new  Constitution,  that  no  tribunal 
was  erected  to  determine  controversies  which  might  arise  between 
the  States  and  the  Nation.  The  Supreme  Court  was  restricted  in  its 
jurisdiction  to  causes  in  law  and  equity,  and  could  not  adjudicate  polit- 
ical differences.  The  proposition  was,  therefore,  submitted  to  extend 
its  powers,  so  as  to  make  it  the  arbiter  of  all  issues  that  might  arise. 
It  did  not,  however,  prevail  so  as  be  articulated  into  the  Constitution. 
Of  course,  the  States  were  thrown  back  upon  the  great  principle  of 
international  law,  that  every  sovereign  must  decide  for  himself  in 
controverted  issues,  under  a  sense  of  responsibility  to  the  opinion  of 
mankind,  and  the  verdict  of  impartial  history.  To  show  still  further 
the  relation  of  the  States  to  the  Union,  we  will  cite  another  fact. 
Three  resolutions  were  introduced  into  the  Convention,  the  first  de- 
claring 'that  a  Union  of  the  States  merely  federal  will  not  accomplish 
the  objects  proposed  by  the  Articles  of  Confederation;*  the  second, 
'that  no  treaty  or  treaties  between  the  States,  as  sovereign,  will  secure 
the  common  defence;*  the  third,  'that  a  national  government  ought  to 
be  established,* '  etc.  The  first  two  resolutions  were  immediately  tabled ; 
the  third  was  adopted;  but  afterwards,  in  the  course  of  debate,  undue 
stress  being  laid  upon  the  word  'national*  it  was  changed  into  'the 
government  of  the  United  States." 

"Another  method  was  proposed,  to  provide  for  the  danger  of  collision 
between  the  Federal  and  State  authorities.  The  sixth  of  Governor  Ran- 
dolph's famous  fifteen  resolutions  empowered  'the  Federal  Executive 
to  call  forth  the  force  of  the  Union  against  any  member  of  the  Union 
failing  to  fulfill  his  duties  under  the  articles  thereof.*  *  This  suggestion 
utterly  failed  to  secure  the  assent  of  the  Convention,  and  the  resolution 
was  abridged  as  to  this  feature  of  it.  The  strongest  Centralists  in 
the  body,  as  Mr.  Madison  and  Mr.  Hamilton,  repudiated  the  principle, 
as  tantamount  to  a  declaration  of  war  and  a  dissolution  of  the  Union, 
and  utterly  repugnant  to  the  genius  and  spirit  of  this  Government.    We 

"Elliot's  Debates,  Vol.  I.,  p.  391.    *  Ibid.,  p.  427.     *Ibid.,  p.  144. 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  203 

cannot  burthen  this  article  with  the  citation  of  authorities.  These 
general  facts  are  sufficient  to  show  the  view  taken  by  the  framers 
of  the  Constitution,  as  to  the  relations  between  the  States  and  the 
central  authority.  They  are  of  no  little  significance,  at  a  time  like  this, 
when  so  many  are  clamoring  for  the  coercion  of  the  South,  whether 
it  be  a  coercion  of  laws  or  a  coercion  of  arms.  The  puerile  distinction 
had  not  occurred  to  these  wise  men  of  a  past  age,  between  coercing  a 
State  and  the  coercion  of  its  citizens  alone :  a  distinction  perfectly  legit- 
imate, when  a  State  professes  to  recognize  the  authority  of  the  Union, 
and  unlawful  combinations  of  individuals  exist  to  resist  the  same; 
but  a  distinction  utterly  impertinent,  when  the  State  asserts  her  sov- 
ereign jurisdiction  over  her  citizens,  and  disclaims  any  longer  partici- 
pation in  the  Federal  Union.  Manifestly,  if  a  State,  while  in  the 
Union,  may  not  be  coerced  by  Federal  power,  without  its  'being  tanta- 
mount to  a  declaration  of  war,'  then,  ex  fortiori,  she  may  not  be  co- 
erced when  by  her  sovereign  act  the  bonds  have  been  sundered  by 
which  she  was  held  under  the  compact,  and  she  stands  wholly  without 
the  pale  of  the  Union. 

"The  longest  argument  must  have  an  end.  We  advert,  finally,  to 
the  notorious  fact,  that  in  the  very  act  of  ratifying  this  Constitution, 
three  States  asserted  their  sovereign  right  to  resume  the  powers  they 
had  delegated.  New  York  declared  'that  the  powers  of  government 
may  be  reassumed  by  the  people  whenever  it  shall  become  necessary 
to  their  happiness:*'  and  further  indicates  what  people  she  means,  by 
speaking,  in  the  same  connection,  of  the  residuary  power  and  jurisdic- 
tion in  the  people  of  the  State,  not  granted  to  the  General  Government. 
The  delegates  from  Virginia  'declare  and  make  known,  in  the  name 
and  in  the  behalf  of  the  people  of  Virginia,  that  the  powers  granted 
under  the  Constitution,  being  derived  from  the  people  of  the  United 
States,  may  be  resumed  by  them  whensoever  the  same  shall  be  per- 
verted to  their  injury  and  oppression.*  ■  In  like  manner,  Rhode*  Island 
protests  against  the  remission  of  her  right  of  resumption.  And  while 
the  language  is  not  so  explicit  as  that  of  New  York,  the  meaning  is 
precisely  the  same ;  for,  as  the  original  grantor  of  these  powers  was  the 
people  of  the  States,  and  not  the  collective  people  of  the  country  at 
large,  the  former  alone  had  the  right  to  reassume.  The  other  States 
made  no  such  declarations.  Indeed,  as  the  right  lay  in  the  very  nature 
and  history  of  the  federation,  they  could  be  made  by  these  three  only 
in  the  way  of  superabundant  caution.  This  right,  so  solemnly  asserted 
seventy  years  ago,  has  been  sleeping  upon  the  records  of  the  country. 
It  is- now  brought  into  exercise  by  seven  States,  and  the  issue  can  no 
longer  be  blinked.  If  the  insane  advice  gratuitously  tendered  in  this 
pamphlet  should  be  followed  by  the  Federal  authorities,  the  war  that 
ensues  will  be  a  war  of  principle  as  well  as  of  passion:  and  the  South 

'  Elliot's  Debates,  Vol.  I.,  p.  327.    '  Ibid. 


204       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

will  know  that  she  is  contending  against  tyranny  in  theory  as  well  as 
tyranny  in  practice. 

"It  would  thus  appear  the  doctrine  of  wlHidraw^l  from  the  Union 
is  not  so  novel  as  it  has  been  supposed  by  those  who  scout  it  as  mon- 
strous. Let  us  see  if  it  has  not  made  its  appearance  more  than  once 
in  the  history  of  the  country.  When  Mr.  Jefferson  was  made  Secre- 
tary of  State,  after  his  return  from  France,  he  was  warmly  importuned 
by  Mr.  Hamilton  to  throw  his  influence  in  favor  of  the  assumption  of 
the  State  debts,  in  order  to  save  the  Union  from  threatened  dissolution. 
*He,*  says  Mr.  Jefferson,  'painted  pathetically  the  temper  into  which 
the  legislatures  had  been  wrought ;  the  disgust  of  those  who  were  called 
the  creditor  States;  the  danger  of  the  secession  of  their  members,  and 
the  separation  of  the  States;*^  which  was  only  averted  by  bringing 
over  two  of  the  Virginia  delegation  (White  and  Lee)  to  support  the 
measure.  At  a  later  period,  the  passage  of  the  Embargo  Act,  it  is 
well  known,  inflamed  the  New  England  States  to  the  highest  degree; 
so  that  on  the  floor  of  Congress  it  was  declared,  'they  were  repining  for 
a  secession  from  the  Union.'  In  the  Hartford  Convention,  at  which 
five  of  the  Eastern  States  were  represented,  the  report  which  was 
adopted  uses  the  following  language:  'Whenever  it  shall  appear  that 
these  causes  are  radical  and  permanent,  a  separation  by  equitable  ar- 
rangement will  be  preferable  to  an  alliance  by  constraint  among  nom- 
inal friends,  but  real  enemies,  inflamed  by  mutual  hatred  and  jealousy,' 
etc  Again:  'In  cases  of  deliberate,  dangerous  and  palpable  infractions 
of  the  Constitution,  affecting  the  sovereignty  of  a  State  and  the  liber- 
ties of  the  people,  it  is  not  only  the  right,  but  the  duty,  of  such  a  State 
to  interpose  its  authority  for  their  protection,  in  the  manner  best  cal- 
culated to  secure  that  end.  When  emergencies  occur  which  are  be- 
yond the  reach  of  the  judicial  tribunals,  or  too  pressing  to  admit  of  the 
delay  incident  to  their  forms,  States,  which  have  no  common  umpire, 
must  be  their  own  judges,  and  execute  their  own  decisions.'  It  is  a 
little  curious  that  these  avowals  of  the  right  of  secession  should  come 
from  the  very  section  which  is  most  chargeable  with  begetting  the 
present  schism :  and  that  the  very  people  now  most  ready  to  arm  them- 
selves for  the  coercion  of  the  South  could  plead  for  an  equitable  and 
peaceful  separation,  so  long  as  it  was  meditated  by  themselves.  The 
infamy  attached  to  the  Hartford  Convention  springs  not  from  their 
exposition  of  political  doctrine,  but  from  the  insufliciency  of  the  cause 
impelling  them  to  a  breach  of  compact,  and  from  the  want  of  patriot- 
ism which  could  meditate  such  a  step  when  the  country  was  in  the 
midst  of  a  war  with  a  foreign  enemy. 

"We  have  thus  argued  the  legal  right  of  secession,  without  touching 
upon  its  moral  aspect  Regarding  the  Union  in  the  light  of  a  compact, 
it  is  not  lightly  to  be  broken.  Framed  for  such  purposes,  and  under 
such  circumstances,  it  was  a  covenant  peculiarly  sacred,  which  could 

^Irving's  Life  of  Washington,  Vol.  V.,  p.  6i. 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  205 

not  be  set  aside  without  guilt  somewhere.  In  this  regard,  the  seceding 
South  is  prepared  to  carry  her  cause  before  the  world,  and  before  God. 
When  the  Union  had  failed  in  all  the  ends  for  which  it  was  instituted 
— neither  'establishing  justice,  insuring  domestic  tranquillity,  promoting 
the  general  welfare,  nor  securing  the  blessings  of  liberty;*  when  these 
delegated  powers  were  perverted  into  powers  of  oppression  and  injury; 
when  the  compact  had  flagrantly,  and  with  impunity,  been  broken  by 
the  other  parties  to  it,  then  it  became  the  South  to  assert  her  last 
right,  that  of  a  peaceful  withdrawal  from  the  partnership.  If  to  her 
other  wrongs  this  last  and  most  atrocious  of  them  all,  an  attempt  at 
her  forcible  subjugation  is  to  be  added,  then  will  her  defence  be  as 
complete  as  an  injured  people  ever  carried  over  to  the  judgment  of 
posterity.  On  this,  however,  we  will  not  enlarge.  It  will  be  seen  that, 
upon  the  legal  aspects  of  the  question,  we  are  at  antipodes  with  the 
writer,  whose  essay  we  have  reviewed.  He  affirms  the  people  to  be  one, 
divided  into  many:  we,  that  they  are  many,  united  into  one.  He  as- 
cribes sovereignty  to  the  Union:  we,  to  the  States.  He  regards  the 
Constitution  as  creating  a  government  which  is  over  the  States:  we 
regard  it  as  a  common  law  established  between  the  States.  In  his  view, 
'any  attempt  to  throw  off  this  national  allegiance,  in  any  legal,  in  any 
constitutional,  in  any  historical  light,  is  pure  madness:*  in  our  view, 
in  every  legal,  constitutional,  or  historical  light,  there  is  no  allegiance 
to  be  thrown  off,  and  consequently  there  is  no  madness  in  the  case. 
He  affirms  secession  to  be  rebellion,  which  must  be  suppressed  at  every 
hazard:  we,  that  it  is  an  inherent  right  of  sovereignty,  which  cannot 
be  disallowed  without  an  international  war.  Let  the  reader  put  the 
two  into  his  own  scales,  and  decide  for  himself."" 

The  people  of  South  Carolina  inaugurated  the  Revolution 
as  early  as  November  17,  i860.  Thenceforward  events  trod 
upon  the  heels  of  events ;  and  every  critical  movement  made  by 
the  people  of  his  old  mother  State,  or  of  her  sister  States  of 
like  views  and  sympathies,  stirred  to  its  depths  the  heart  of 
Benjamin  M.  Palmer.  He  had  throughout  his  ministerial  ca- 
reer, devoted  himself  with  singular  assiduity  and  exclusiveness 
to  his  high  calling  of  preaching  the  Gospel  of  the  Lord  Jesus 
Christ;  but  he  had  ever  been  intensely  patriotic.  A  man  of 
wonderful  poise  and  self-command,  he  became  inwardly  agi- 
tated.   A  patriotic  fire  burned  in  his  bones. 

The  temptation  to  utter  himself  on  the  great  subject  of 
political  strife  became  overwhelming.     He  came  to  think  he 

•The  article  from  which  this  excerpt  was  taken,  appeared  in  the 
Southern  Presbyterian  Review,  Vol.  XIV.,  pp.  162-175.  It  came  out 
in  April,  1861,  but  may  be  safely  considered  as  showing  his  views  in 
the  fall  of  i860. 


2o6       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

ought  to  speak  on  it;  to  think  that  it  belonged  to  him  as  a 
minister  and  a  divine  to  do  so.  Hence  the  "Thanksgiving 
Sermon"  of  November  29,  i860. 

The  argument  of  this  sermon  does  not  seem,  in  all  points, 
invincible ;  but  it  exercised  so  vast  an  influence  that  it  deserves 
a  careful  reading  not  only  by  every  student  of  Dr.  Palmer's 
life  but  by  everyone  who  would  understand  the  temper  of  the 
Southwest  on  the  eve  of  the  war  between  the  sections.  With 
reference  to  one  of  the  occasions  of  strife,  at  the  least,  he  spoke 
for  the  best  element  in  that  great  section. 

The  preacher  took  for  his  text  Psalm  94 :  20 :  "Shall  the 
throne  of  iniquity  have  fellowship  with  thee,  which  frameth 
mischief  by  a  law?"  and  Obadiah  7 :  "All  the  men  of  thy  con- 
federacy have  brought  thee  even  Jto  the  border;  the  men  that 
were  at  peace  with  thee  have  deceived  thee,  and  prevailed 
against  thee;  they  that  ate  thy  bread  have  laid  a  wound  under 
thee;  there  is  none  understanding  in  him." 

He  said: 

"The  voice  of  the  Chief  Magistrate  has  summoned  us  to-day  to  the 
house  of  prayer.  This  call,  in  its  annual  repetition,  may  be  too  often 
only  a  solemn  state-form;  nevertheless  it  covers  a  mighty  and  double 
truth. 

"It  recognizes  the  existence  of  a  personal  God  whose  will  shapes  the 
destiny  of  nations,  and  that  sentiment  of  religion  in  man  which  points 
to  Him  as  the  needle  to  the  pole.  Even  with  those  who  grope  in  the 
twilight  of  natural  religion,  natural  conscience  gives  a  voice  to  the  dis- 
pensations of  Providence.  If  in  autumn  'extensive  harvests  hang  their 
heavy  head,'  the  joyous  reaper,  'crowned  with  the  sickle  and  the  wheaten 
sheaf,'  lifts  his  heart  to  the  'Father  of  Lights  from  whom  cometh 
down  every  good  and  perfect  gift.'  Or,  if  pestilence  and  famine  waste 
the  earth,  even  pagan  altars  smoke  with  bleeding  victims,  and  costly 
hecatombs  appease  the  Divine  anger  which  flames  out  in  such  dire 
misfortunes.  It  is  the  instinct  of  man's  religious  nature,  which,  among 
Christians  and  heathen  alike,  seeks  after  God — the  natural  homage 
which  reason,  blinded  as  it  may  be,  pays  to  a  universal  and  ruling  Prov- 
idence. All  classes  bow  beneath  its  spell  especially  in  seasons  of 
gloom,  when  a  nation  bends  beneath  the  weight  of  a  general  calamity, 
and  a  commoi)^  sorrow  falls  upon  every  heart.  The  hesitating  skep- 
tic forgets  to  weigh  his  scruples,  as  the  dark  shadow  passes  over  him 
and  fills  his  soul  with  awe.  The  dainty  philosopher,  coolly  discoursing 
of  the  forces  of  nature  and  her  uniform  laws,  abandons,  for  a  time 
his  atheistical  speculations,  abashed  by  the  proofs  of  a  supreme  and 
personal  will. 

"Thus  the  devout  followers  of  Jesus  Christ  and  those  who  do  not 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  207 

rise  above  the  level  of  mere  theisms,  are  drawn  into  momentary  fellow- 
ship; as  under  the  pressure  of  these  inextinguishable  convictions  they 
pay  a  public  and  tmited  homage  to  the  God  of  nature  and  of  grace. 

"In  obedience  to  this  great  law  of  religious  feeling,  not  less  than  in 
obedience  to  the  civil  ruler  who  represents  this  commonwealth  in  its 
unity,  we  are  now  assembled.  Hitherto,  on  similar  occasions,  our 
language  has  been  the  language  of  gratitude  and  song.  The  voice 
of  rejoicing  and  salvation  was  in  the  tabernacles  of  the  righteous.' 
Together  we  praised  the  Lord  'that  our  garners  were  full,  affording 
all  manner  of  store;  that  our  sheep  brought  forth  thousands  and  ten 
thousands  in  our  streets;  that  our  oxen  were  strong  to  labor,  and 
there  was  no  breaking  in  nor  going  out,  and.  no  complaining  was  in 
our  streets/  As  we  together  surveyed  the  blessings  of  Providence, 
the  joyful  chorus  swelled  from  millions  of  people,  'Peace  be  within  thy 
walls  and  prosperity  within  thy  palaces.'  But,  to-day,  burdened  hearts 
all  over  this  land  are  brought  to  the  sanctuary  of  God.  We  'see  the 
tents  of  Cushan  in  affliction,  and  the  curtains  of  the  land  of  Midian 
do  tremble.'  We  have  fallen  upon  times  when  there  are  'signs  in  the 
sun,  and  in  the  moon,  and  in  the  stars;  upon  the  earth  distress  of 
nations,  with  perplexities;  the  sea  and  the  waves  roaring;  men's 
hearts  failing  them  for  fear  and  for  looking  after  those  things  which 
are  coming*  in  the  near  yet  gloomy  future.  Since  the  words  of  this 
proclamation  were  penned  by  which  we  are  convened,  that  which  all 
men  dreaded,  but  against  which  all  men  hoped,  has  been  realized; 
and  in  the  triumph  of  a  sectional  majority  we  are  compelled  to  read  the 
probable  doom  of  our  once  happy  and  united  Confederacy.  It  is  not 
to  be  concealed  that  we  are  in  the  most  fearful  and  perilous  crisis  which 
has  occurred  in  our  history  as  a  nation.  The  cords  which,  during  four- 
fifths  of  a  century,  have  bound  together  this  growing  republic  are  now 
strained  to  their  utmost  tension:  they  just  need  the  touch  of  fire  to 
part  asunder  forever.  Like  a  ship  laboring  in  the  storm  and  suddenly 
grounded  upon  some  treacherous  shoal— every  timber  of  this  vast 
Confederacy  strains  and  groans  under  the  pressure.  Sectional  divisions, 
the  jealousy  of  rival  interests,  the  lust  of  political  power,  a  bastard 
ambition  which  looks  to  personal  aggrandizement  rather  than,  to  the 
public  weal,  a  reckless  radicalism  which  seeks  for  the  subversion  of 
all  that  is  ancient  and  stable,  and  a  furious  fanaticism  which  drives 
on  its  ill-considerd  conclusions  with  utter  disregard  of  the  evil  it  en- 
genders— ^all  these  combine  to  create  a  portentous  crisis,  the  like  of 
which  we  have  never  known  before,  and  which  puts  to  a  crucifying 
test  the  virtue,  the  patriotism  and  the  piety  of  the  country. 

"You,  my  hearers,  who  have  waited  upon  my  public  ministry  and  have 
known  me  in  the  intimacies  of  pastoral  intercourse,  will  do  me  the  jus- 
tice to  testify  that  I  have  never  intermeddled  with  political  questions. 
Interested  as  I  might  be  in  the  progress  of  events,  I  have  never  ob- 
truded, either  publicly  or  privately,  my  opinions  upon  any  of  you; 


2o8       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

nor  can  a  single. man  arise  and  say  that,  by  word  or  sign,  have  I  ever 
sought  to  warp  his  sentiments  or  control  his  judgment  upon  any  polit- 
ical subject  whatsoever.  The  party  questions  which  have  hitherto 
divided  the  political  world  have  seemed  to  me  to  involve  no  issue 
sufficiently  momentous  to  warrant  my  turning  aside,  even  for  a  moment, 
from  my  chosen  calling.  In  this  day  of  intelligence,  I  have  felt  there 
were  thousands  around  me  more  competent  to  instruct  in  statesman- 
ship; and  thus,  from  considerations  of  modesty  no  less  than  prudence, 
I  have  preferred  to  move  among  you  as  a  preacher  of  righteousness 
belonging  to  a  kingdom  not  of  this  world. 

"During  the  heated  canvass  which  has  just  been  brought  to  so  dis- 
astrous a  close,  the  seal  of  a  rigid  and  religious  silence  has  not  been 
broken.  I  deplored  the  divisions  amongst  us  as  being,  to  a  large  ex- 
tent, impertinent  in  the  solemn  crisis  which  was  too  evidently  impend- 
ing. Most  clearly  did  it  appear  to  me  that  but  one  issue  was  before  us ; 
an  issue  soon  to  be  presented  in  a  form  which  would  compel  the  atten- 
tion. That  crisis  might  make  it  imperative  upon  me  as  a  Christian 
and  a  divine  to  speak  in  language  admitting  no  misconstruction.  Until 
then,  aside  from  the  din  and  strife  of  parties,  I  could  only  mature, 
with  solitary  and  prayerful  thought,  the  destined  utterance.  That  hour 
has  come.  At  a  juncture  so  solemn  as  the  present,  with  the  destiny 
of  a  great  people  waiting  upon  the  decision  of  an  hour,  it  is  not  lawful 
to  be  still.  Whoever  may  have  influence  to  shape  public  opinion,  at 
such  a  time  must  lend  it,  or  prove  faithless  to  a  trust  as  solemn  as 
any  to  be  accounted  for  at  the  bar  of  God. 

"Is  it  immodest  in  me  to  assume  that  I  may  represent  a  class  whose 
opinions  in  such  a  controversy  are  of  cardinal  importance — ^the  class 
which  seeks  to  ascertain  its  duty  in  the  light  simply  of  conscience  and 
religion,  and  which  turns  to  the  moralist  and  the  Christian  for  support 
and  guidance?  The  question,  too,  which  now  places  us  upon  the  brink 
of  revolution  was  in  its  origin  a  question  of  morals  and  religion. 
It  was  debated  in  ecclesiastical  counsels  before  it  entered  legislative 
halls.  It  has  riven  asunder  the  two  largest  religious  communions 
in  the  land:  and  the  right  determination  of  this  primary  question  will 
go  far  toward  fixing  the  attitude  we  must  assume  in  the  coming  strug- 
gle. I  sincerely  pray  God  that  I  may  be  forgiven  if  I  have  misappre- 
hended the  duty  incumbent  upon  me  "to-day;  for  I  have  ascended  this 
pulpit  under  the  agitation  of  feeling  natural  to  one  who  is  about  to 
deviate  from  the  settled  policy  of  his  public  life.  It  is  my  purpose — 
not  as  your  organ,  compromitting  you,  whose  opinions  are  for  the  most 
part  unknown  to  me,  but  on  my  sole  responsibility — to  speak  upon  the 
one  question  of  the  day;  and  to  state  the  duty  which,  as  I  believe, 
patriotism  and  religion  alike  require  of  us  all.  I  shall  aim  to  speak 
with  a  moderation  of  tone  and  feeling  almost  judicial,  well  befitting 
the  sanctities  of  the  place  and  the  solemnities  of  the  judgment  day. 

"In  determining  our  duty  in  this  emergency  it  is  necessary  that  we 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  209 

should  first  ascertain  the  nature  of  the  trust  providentially  committed 
to  us.  A  nation  often  has  a  character  as  well  defined  and  intense  as 
that  of  an  individual  This  depends,  of  course  upon  a  variety  of  causes 
operating  through  a  long  period  of  time.  It  is  due  largely  to  the  orig- 
inal traits  which  distinguish  the  stock  from  which  it  springs,  and  to 
the  providential  training  which  has  formed  its  education.  But,  however 
derived,  this  individuality  of  character  alone  makes  any  people  truly 
historic,  competent  to  work  out  its  specific  mission,  and  to  become  a 
factor  in  the  world's  progress.  The  particular  trust  assigned  to  such  a 
people  becomes  the  pledge  of  the  divine  protection;  and  their  fidelity 
to  it  determines  the  fate  by  which  it  is  finally  overtaken.  What  that 
trust  is  must  be  ascertained  from  the  necessities  of  their  position,  the 
institutions  which  are  the  outgrowth  of  their  principles  and  the  conflicts 
through  which  they  preserve  their  identity  and  independence.  If  then 
the  South  is  such  a  people,  what,  at  this  juncture,  is  their  providential 
trust?  I  answer,  that  it  is  to  conserve  and  to  perpetuate  the  insti- 
tution of  domestic  slavery  as  now  existing.  It  is  not  necessary  here 
to  inquire  whether  this  is  precisely  the  best  relation  in  which  the 
hewer  of  wood  and  drawer  of  water  can  stand  to  his  employer;  al- 
though this  proposition  niay  perhaps  be  successfully  sustained  by 
those  who  choose  to  defend  it  Still  less  are  we  required,  dogmatically, 
to  affirm  that  it  will  subsist  through  all  time.  Baffled  as  our  wisdom 
may  now  be  in  finding  a  solution  of  this  intricate  social  problem,  it 
would  nevertheless  be  the  height  of  arrogance  to  pronounce  what 
changes  may  or  may  not  occur  in  the  distant  future.  In  the  grand 
march  of  events  Providence  may  work  out  a  solution  undiscoverable 
by  us.  What  modifications  of  soil  and  climate  may  hereafter  be  pro- 
duced, what  consequent  changes  in  the  products  on  which  we  depend, 
what  political  revolutions  may  occur  among  the  races  which  are  now 
enacting  the  great  drama  of  history:  all  such  inquiries  are  totally 
irrelevant  because  no  prophetic  vision  can  pierce  the  darkness  of  that 
future.  If  this  question  should  ever  arise,  the  generation  to  whom  it 
is  remitted  will  doubtless  have  the  wisdom  to  meet  it,  and  Providence 
will  furnish  the  lights  in  which  it  is  to  be  resolved.  All  that  we  claim 
for  them,  for  ourselves,  is  liberty  to  work  out  this  problem,  guided  by  na- 
ture and  God,  without  obtrusive  interference  from  abroad.  These  great 
questions  of  Providence  and  history  must  have  free  scope  for  their 
solution;  and  the  race  whose  fortunes  are  distinctly  implicated  in  the 
same  is  alone  authorized,  as  it  is  alone  competent,  to  determine  them. 
It  is  just  this  impertinence  of  human  legislation,  setting  bounds  to 
what  God  alone  can  regulate,  that  the  South  is  called  this  day  to  re- 
sent and  resist'  The  country  is  convulsed  simply  because  'the  throne 
of  iniquity  frameth  mischief  by  a  law.'  Without,  therefore,  determin- 
ing the  question  of  duty  for  future  generations,  I  simply  say,  that  for 
us,  as  now  situated,  the  duty  is  plain  of  conserving  and  transmitting 
the  system  of  slavery,  with  the  freest  scope  for  its  natural  development 

14 


2IO       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

and  extension.  Let  us,  my  brethren,  look  our  duty  in  the  face.  With 
this  institution  assigned  to  our  keeping,  what  reply  shall  we  make 
to  those  who  say  that  its  days  are  numbered?  My  own  conviction  is, 
that  we  should  at  once  lift  ourselves,  intelligently,  to  the  highest  moral 
ground  and  proclaim  to  all  the  world  that  we  hold  this  trust  from  God, 
and  in  its  occupancy  we  are  prepared  to  stand  or  fall  as  God  may  ap- 
point If  the  critical  moment  has  arrived  at  which  the  great  issue  is 
joined,  let  us  say  that,  in  the  sight  of  all  perils,  we  will  stand  by  our 
trust;  and  God  be  with  the  right! 

"The  argument  which  enforces  the  solemnity  of  this  providential 
trust  is  simple  and  condensed.  It  is  botmd  upon  us,  then,  by  the  prin- 
ciple of  self 'preservation,  that  'first  law'  which  is  continually  asserting 
its  supremacy  over  all  others.  Need  I  pause  to  show  how  this  system 
of  servitude  underlies  and  supports  our  material  interests;  that  our 
wealth  consists  in  our  lands  and  in  the  serfs  who  till  them;  that  from 
the  nature  of  our  products  they  can  only  be  cultivated  by  labor  which 
must  be  controlled  in  order  to  be  certain;  that  any  other  than  a  trop- 
ical race  must  faint  and  wither  beneath  a  tropical  sun?  Need  I  pause 
to  show  how  this  system  is  interwoven  with  our  entire  social  fabric; 
that  these  slaves  form  parts  of  our  households,  even  as  our  children; 
and  that,  too,  through  a  relationship  recognized  and  sanctioned  in  the 
Scriptures  of  God  even  as  the  other?  Must  I  pause  to  show  how  it 
has  fashioned  our  modes  of  life,  and  determined  all  our  habits  of 
thought  and  feeling,  and  moulded  the  very  type  of  our  civilization? 
How  then  can  the  hand  of  violence  be  laid  upon  it  without  involving 
our  existence?  The  so-called  free  States  of  this  country  are  working 
out  the  social  problem  under  conditions  peculiar  to  themselves.  These 
conditions  are  sufficiently  hard,  and  their  success  is  too  uncertain  to 
excite  in  us  the  least  jealousy  of  their  lot  With  a  teeming  population, 
which  the  soil  cannot  support;  with  their  wealth  depending  upon  arts, 
created  by  artificial  wants;  with  an  external  friction  between  the 
grades  of  their  society;  with  their  labor  and  their  capital  grinding 
against  each  other  like  the  upper  and  nether  millstones;  with  labor 
cheapened  and  displaced  by  new  mechanical  inventions,  bursting  more 
asunder  the  bonds  of  brotherhood — amid  these  intricate  perils  we  have 
ever  given  them  our  sympathy  and  our  prayers,  and  have  never  sought 
to  weaken  the  foundations  of  their  social  order.  God  grant  them  com- 
plete success  in  the  solution  of  all  their  perplexities!  We,  too,  have 
our  responsibilities  and  trials;  but  they  are  all  bound  up  in  this  one 
institution,  which  has  been  the  object  of  such  unrighteous  assault 
through  five  and  twenty  years.  If  we  are  true  to  ourselves  we  shall, 
at  this  critical  juncture,  stand  by  it  and  work  out  our  destiny. 

'This  duty  is  bound  upon  us  again  as  the  constituted  guardians  of 
the  slaves  themselves.  Our  lot  is  not  more  implicated  in  theirs,  than 
their  lot  in  ours ;  in  our  mutual  relations  we  survive  or  perish  together. 
The  worst  foes  of  the  black  race  are  those  who  have  intermeddled  on 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  211 

their  behalf.  We  know  better  than  others  that  every  attribute  of  thpir 
character  fits  them  for  dependence  and  servitude.  By  nature  the  most 
a£Fectionate  and  lo3ral  of  all  races  beneath  the  sun,  they  are  also  the 
most  helpless;  and  no  calamity  can  befall  them  greater  than  the  loss 
of  that  protection  they  enjoy  under  this  patriarchal  system.  Indeed, 
the  experiment  has  been  grandly  tried  of  precipitating  them  upon  free- 
dom which  they  know  not  how  to  enjoy;  and  the  dismal  results  are 
before  us  in  statistics  that  astonish  the  world.  With  the  fairest  por- 
tions of  the  earth  in  their  possession  and  with  the  advantage  of  a  long 
discipline  as  cultivators  of  the  soil,  their  constitutional  indolence  has 
converted  the  most  beautiful  islands  of  the  sea  into  a  howling  waste. 
It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  if  the  South  should,  at  this  moment, 
surrender  every  slave,  the  wisdom  of  the  entire  world,  united  in  sol- 
emn council,  could  not  solve  the  question  of  their  disposal  Their 
transportation  to  Africa,  even  if  it  were  feasible,  would  be  but  the 
most  refined  cruelty;  they  must  perish  with  starvation  before  they 
could  have  time  to  relapse  into  their  primitive  barbarism.  Their  res- 
idence here,  in  the  presence  of  the  vigorous  Saxon  race,  would  be  but 
the  signal  for  their  rapid  extermination  before  they  had  time  to  waste 
away  through  listlessness,  filth  and  vice.  Freedom  would  be  their 
doom;  and  equally  from  both  they  call  upon  us,  their  provid^tial 
guardians,  to  be  protected.  I  know  this  argument  will  be  scoffed 
abroad  as  the  hypocritical  cover  thrown  over  our  own  cupidity  and 
selfishness;  but  every  Southern  master  knows  its  truth  and  feels  its 
power.  My  servant,  whether  bom  in  my  house  or  bought  with  my 
money,  stands  to  me  in  the  relation  of  a  child.  Though  providentially 
owing  me  service,  which,  providentially,  I  am  bound  to  exact,  he  is, 
nevertheless,  my  brother  and  my  friend,  and  I  am  to  him  a  guardian 
and  a  father.  He  leans  upon  me  for  protection,  for  counsel,  and  for 
blessing;  and  so  long  as  the  relation  continues,  no  power  but  the  power 
of  Almighty  God  shall  come  between  him  and  me.  Were  there  no 
argument  but  this,  it  binds  upon  us  the  providential  duty  of  preserving 
the  relation  that  we  may  save  him  from  a  doom  worse  than  death. 

"It  is  a  duty  which  we  owe,  further,  to  the  civilised  world.  It  is  a 
remarkable  fact  that  during  these  thirty  years  of  unceasing  warfare 
against  slavery,  and  while  a  lying  spirit  has  inflamed  the  world  against 
us,  that  world  has  grown  more  and  more  dependent  upon  it  for  sus- 
tenance and  wealth.  Every  tyro  knows  that  all  branches  of  industry 
fall  back  upon  the  soil.  We  must  come,  every  one  of  us,  to  the  bosom 
of  this  great  mother  for  nourishment.  In  the  happy  partnership  which 
has  grown  up  in  providence  between  the  tribes  of  this  confederacy, 
our  industry  has  been  concentrated  upon  agriculture.  To  the  North 
we  have  cheerfully  resigned  all  the  profits  arising  from  manufacture 
and  commerce.  Those  profits  they  have,  for  the  most  part,  fairly 
earned,  and  we  have  never  begrudged  them.  We  have  sent  them  our 
sugar  and  bought  it  back  when  refined;  we  have  sent  them  our  cotton 


212       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

and  bought  it  back  when  spun  into  thread  or  woven  into  cloth.  Almost 
every  article  we  use,  from  the  shoe  lachet  to  the  most  elaborate  and 
costly  article  of  luxury,  they  have  made  and  we  have  bought;  and  both 
sections  have  thriven  by  the  partnership,  as  no  people  ever  thrived 
before  sin^e  the  first  shining  of  the  sun.  So  literally  true  are  the 
words  of  the  text,  addressed  by  Obadiah  to  Edom,  'All  the  men  of 
our  confederacy,  the  men  that  were  at  peace  with  us,  have  eaten  our 
bread  at  the  very  time  they  have  deceived  and  laid  a  woimd  under  us.' 
Even  beyond  this  the  enriching  commerce  which  has  built  the  splen- 
did cities  and  marble  palaces  of  England,  as  well  as  of  America,  has 
been  largely  established  upon  the  products  of  our  soil;  and  the  blooms 
upon  Southern  fields  gathered  by  black  hands  have  fed  the  spindles 
and  looms  of  Manchester  and  Birmingham  not  less  than  of  Lawrence 
and  Lowell.  Strike  now  a  blow  at  this  system  of  labor  and  the  world 
itself  totters  at  the  stroke.  Shall  we  permit  that  blow  to  fall?  Do  we 
not  owe  it  to  civilized  man  to  stand  in  the  breach  and  stay  the  uplifted 
arm?  If  the  blind  Samson  lays  hold  of  the  pillars  which  support  the 
arch  of  the  world's  industry,  how  many  more  will  be  buried  beneath  its 
ruins  than  the  lords  of  the  Philistines?  'Who  knoweth  whether  we  are 
not  come  to  the  kingdom  for  such,  a  time  as  this.' 

"Last  of  all,  in  this  great  struggle,  we  defend  the  cause  of  God  and 
religion.  The  abolition  spirit  is  undeniably  atheistic.  The  demon 
which  erected  its  throne  upon  the  guillotine  in  the  days  of  Robespierre 
and  Marat,  which  abolished  the  Sabbath  and  worshipped  reason  in 
the  person  of  a  harlot,  yet  survives  to  work  other  horrors,  of  which 
those  of  the  French  Revolution  are  but  the  type.  Among  a  people  so 
generally  religious  as  the  American,  a  disguise  must  be  worn;  but  it  is 
the  same  old  threadbare  disguise  of  the  advocacy  of  human  rights. 
From  a  thousand  Jacobin  clubs  here,  as  in  France,  the  decree  has  gone 
forth  which  strikes  at  God  by  striking  at  all  subordination  and  law. 
Availing  itself  of  the  morbid  and  misdirected  sympathies  of  men,  it 
has  entrapped  weak  consciences  in  the  meshes  of  its  treachery ;  and  now, 
at  last,  has  seated  its  high  priest  upon  the  throne,  clad  in  the  black 
garments  of  discord  and  schism,  so  symbolic  of  its  ends.  Under  this 
suspicious  cry  of  reform,  it  demands  that  every  evil  shall  be  corrected, 
or  society  become  a  wreck — the  sun  must  be  stricken  from  the  heavens, 
if  a  spot  is  found  upon  his  disk.  The  Most  High,  knowing  his  own 
power,  which  is  infinite,  and  his  own  wisdom,  which  is  unfathomable, 
can  afford  to  be  patient  But  these  self -constituted  reformers  must 
quicken  the  activity  of  Jehovah  or  compel  his  abdication.  In  their 
furious  haste,  they  trample  upon  obligations  sacred  as  any  which  can 
bind  the  conscience.  It  is  time  to  reproduce  the  obsolete  idea  that 
Providence  must  govern  man,  and  not  that  man  shall  control  Provi- 
dence. In  the  imperfect  state  of  human  society,  it  pleases  God  to  allow 
evils  which  check  others  that  are  greater.  As  in  the  physical  world, 
objects  are  moved  forward,  not  by  a  single  force,  but  by  the  composi- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  213 

tion  of  forces;  so  in  his  moral  administration,  there  are  checks  and 
balances  whose  intimate  relations  are  comprehended  only  by  himself. 
But  what  reck  they  of  this — these  fierce  zealots  who  undertake  to  drive 
the  chariot  of  the  sun?  Working  out  the  single  and  false  idea  which 
rides  them  like  a  nightmare,  they  dash  athwart  the  spheres,  utterly 
disregarding  the  delicate  mechanism  of  Providence,  which  moves  on, 
wheels  within  wheels,  with  pivots  and  balances  and  springs,  which  the 
great  Designer  alone  can  control.  This  spirit  of  atheism,  which  knows 
no  God  who  tolerates  evil,  no  Bible  which  sanctions  law,  and  no  con- 
science that  can  be  bound  by  oaths  and  covenants,  has  selected  us  for 
its  victims,  and  slavery  for  its  issue.  Its  banner-cry  rings  out  already 
upon  the  air — 'liberty,  equality,  fraternity,'  which  simply  interpreted 
mean  bondage,  confiscation  and  massacre.  With  its  tricolor  waving  in 
the  breeze, — ^it  waits  to  inaugurate  its  reign  of  terror.  To  the  South 
the  high  position  is  assigned  of  defending,  before  all  nations,  the  cause 
of  all  religion  and  of  all  truth.  In  this  trust,  we  are  resisting  the  power 
which  wars  against  constitutions  and  laws  and  compacts,  against 
Sabbaths  and  sanctuaries,  against  the  family,  the  State,  and  the  Church ; 
which  blasphemously  invades  the  prerogatives  of  God,  and  rebukes 
the  Most  High  for  the  errors  of  his  administration;  which,  if  it  can- 
not snatch  the  reign  of  empire  from  his  grasp,  will  lay  the  universe  in 
ruins  at  his  feet.    Is  it  possible  that  we  shall  decline  the  onset? 

"This  argument,  then,  which  sweeps  over  the  entire  circle  of  our  re- 
lations, touches  the  four  cardinal  points  of  duty  to  ourselves,  to  our 
slaves,  to  the  world,  and  to  Almighty  God.  It  establishes  the  nature 
and  solemnity  of  our  present  trust,  to  preserve  and  transmit  our  existing 
system  of  domestic  servitude,  with  the  right,  unchallenged  by  man,  to 
go  and  root  itself  wherever  Providence  and  nature  may  carry  it. 
This  trust  we  will  discharge  in  the  face  of  the  worst  possible  peril. 
Though  war  be  the  aggregation  of  all  evils,  yet  should  the  madness 
of  the  hour  appeal  to  the  arbitration  of  the  sword,  we  will  not  shrink 
even  from  the  baptism  of  fire.  If  modem  crusaders  stand  in  serried 
ranks  upon  some  plain  of  Esdraelon,  there  shall  we  be  in  defence  of  our 
trust  Not  till  the  last  man  has  fallen  behind  the  last  rampart,  shall 
it  drop  from  our  hands;  and  then  only  in  surrender  to  the  God  who 
gave  it. 

"Against  this  institution  a  system  of  aggression  has  been  pursued 
through  the  last  thirty  years.  Initiated  by  a  few  ^natics,  who  were  at 
first  despised,  it  has  gathered  strength  from  opposition  until  it  has  as- 
sumed its  present  gigantic  proportions.  No  man  has  thoughtfully 
watched  the  progress  of  this  controversy  without  being  convinced 
that  the  crisis  must  at  length  come.  Some  few,  perhaps,  have  hoped 
against  hope,  that  the  gathering  imposthume  might  be  dispersed,  and 
the  poison  be  eliminated  from  the  body  politic  by  healthful  remedies. 
But  the  delusion  has  scarcely  been  cherished  by  those  who  have  studied 
the  history  of  fanaticism  in  its  path  of  blood  and  fire  through  the  ages 


\ 


214       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  the  past  The  moment  must  arrive  when  the  conflict  must  be  joined, 
and  victory  decide  for  one  or  the  other.  As  it  has  been  a  war  of  legis- 
lative tactics,  and  not  of  physical  force,  both  parties  have  been  ma- 
neuvering for  a  position ;  and  the  embarrassment  has  been,  whilst  dodg- 
ing amidst  constitutional  forms,  to  make  an  issue  that  should  be  clear, 
simple,  and  tangible.  Such  an  issue  is  at  length  presented  in  the  result 
of  the  recent  Presidential  election.  Be  it  observed,  too,  that  it  is  an 
issue  made  by  the  North,  not  by  the  South,  upon  whom,  therefore, 
must  rest  the  entire  guilt  of  the  present  disturbance.  With  a  choice 
between  three  national  candidates,  who  have  more  or  less  divided  the 
votes  of  the  South,  the  North,  with  unexampled  unanimity,  have  cast 
their  ballot  for  a  candidate  who  is  sectional,  who  represents  a  party 
that  is  sectional,  and  the  ground  of  that  sectionalism,  prejudice  against 
the  established  and  constitutional  rights  and  immunities  and  institu- 
tions of  the  South.  What  does  this  declare — what  can  it  declare,  but 
that  from  henceforth  this  is  to  be  a  government  of  section  over  section ; 
a  government  using  constitutional  forms  only  to  embarrass  and  divide 
the  section  ruled,  and  as  fortresses  through  whose  embrasures  the  can- 
npn  of  legislation  is  to  be  employed  in  demolishing  the  guaranteed 
institutions  of  the  South?  What  issue  is  more  direct,  concrete,  intel- 
ligible than  this?  I  thank  God  that,  since  the  conflict  must  be  joined, 
the  responsibility  of  this  issue  rests  not  with  us,  wlio  have  ever  acted 
upon  the  defensive;  and  that  it  is  so  disembarrassed  and  simple  that 
the  feeblest  mind  can  understand  it. 

"The  question  with  the  South  to-day  is  not  what  issue  shall  she 
make,  but  how  shall  she  meet  that  which  is  prepared  for  her?  Is  it 
possible  that  we  can  hesitate  longer  than  a  moment?  In  our  natural 
recoil  from  the  perils  of  revolution,  and  with  our  clinging  fondness  for 
the  memories  of  the  past,  we  may  perhaps  look  around  for  something 
to  soften  the  asperity  of  this  issue,  and  for  some  ground  on  which  we 
may  defer  the  day  of  evil,  for  some  hope  that  the  gathering  clouds  may 
not  burst  in  fury  upon  the  land. 

"It  is  alleged,  for  example,  that  the  President  elect  has  been  chosen 
by  a  fair  majority  under  prescribed  forms.  But  need  I  say,  to  those 
who  have  read  history,  that  no  despotism  is  more  absolute  than  that 
of  an  unprincipled  democracy,  and  no  tyranny  more  galling  than  that 
exercised  through  constitutional  formulas?  But  the  plea  is  idle,  when 
the  very  question  we  debate  is  the  perpetuation  of  that  Constitution  now 
converted  into  an  engine  of  oppression,  and  the  continuance  of  that 
imion  which  is  henceforth  to  be  our  condition  of  vassalage.  I  say 
it  with  solemnity  and  pain,  this  union  of  our  forefathers  is  already  gone. 
It  existed  but  in  mutual  confidence,  the  bonds  of  which  were  ruptured 
in  the  late  election.  Though  its  form  should  be  preserved,  it  is,  in 
fact,  destroyed.  We  may  possibly  entertain  the  project  of  reconstruct- 
ing it ;  but  it  will  be  another  union,  resting  upon  other  than  past  guaran- 
tees.   *In  that  we  say  a  new  covenant  we  have  made  the  first  old,  and 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  215 

that  which  decayeth  and  waxeth  old  is  ready  to  vanish  awa/ — 'as  a 
vesture  it  is  folded  up.'  For  myself  I  say  that,  under  the  rule  which 
threatens  us,  I  throw  off  the  yoke  of  this  union  as  readily  as  did  our 
ancestors  the  yoke  of  King  George  III.,  and  for  causes  immeasurably 
stronger  than  those  pleaded  in  their  celebrated  declaration. 

"It  is  softly  whispered,  too,  that  the  successful  competitor  for  the 
throne  protests  and  avers  his  purpose  to  administer  the  government 
in  a  conservative  and  national  spirit.  Allowing  him  all  credit  for 
personal  integrity  in  these  protestations,  he  is,  in  this  matter,  nearly 
as  impotent  for  good  as  he  is  competent  for  evil.  He  is  nothing  more 
than  a  figure  upon  the  political  chessboard — ^whether  pawn  or  knight 
or  king,  will  hereafter  appear — ^but  still  a  silent  figure  upon  the  check- 
ered squares,  moved  by  the  hands  of  an  unseen  player.  That  player 
is  the  party  to  which  he  owes  his  elevation — a  party  that  has  signalized 
its  history  by  the  most  unblushing  perjuries.  What  faith  can  be  placed 
in  the  protestations  of  men  who  openly  avow  that  their  consciences  are 
too  sublimated  to  be  restrained  by  the  obligation  of  covenants  or  by 
the  sanctity  of  oaths?  No:  we  have  seen  the  trail  of  the  serpent  five 
and  twenty  years  in  our  Eden;  twined  now  in  the  branches  of  the 
forbidden  tree,  we  feel  the  pangs  of  death  already  begun  as  its  hot 
breath  is  upon  our  cheeks,  hissing  out  the  original  falsehood,  'Ye  shall 
not  surely  die.' 

"Another  suggests  that  even  yet  the  Electors,  alarmed  by  these- dem- 
onstrations of  the  South,  may  not  cast  the  black  ball  which  dooms 
their  country  to  the  executioner.  It  is  a  forlorn  hope.  Whether  we 
should  counsel  such  a  breach  of  faith  in  them  or  take  refuge  in  their 
treachery — whether  such  a  result  would  give  a  President  chosen  by 
the  people  according  to  the  constitution — are  points  I  will  not  discuss. 
But  that  it  would  prove  a  cure  for  any  of  our  ills,  who  can  believe! 
It  is  certain  that  it  would,  with  some  show  of  justice,  exasperate  a 
party  sufficiently  ferocious;  that  it  would  doom  us  to  four  years  of 
increasing  strife  and  bitterness;  and  that  the  crisis  must  come  at  last 
under  issues  possibly  not  half  so  clear  as  the  present.  Let  us  not  desire 
to  shift  the  day  of  trial  by  miserable  subterfuges  of  this  sort.  The  issue 
is  upon  us;  let  us  meet  it  like  men  and  end  this  strife  forever. 

"But  some  quietist  whispers,  yet  further,  this  majority  is  accidental 
and  has  been  swelled  by  accessions  of  men  simply  opposed  to  the  ex- 
isting administration;  the  party  is  utterly  heterogeneous  and  must  be 
shivered  into  fragments  by  its  own  success.  I  confess,  frankly,  this 
suggestion  has  staggered  me  more  than  any  other,  and  I  sought  to 
take  refuge  therein.  Why  should  we  not  wait  and  see  the  effect  of 
success  itself  upon  a  party  whose  elements  might  devour  each  other 
in  the  very  distribution  of  the  spoil?  Two  considerations  have  dis- 
sipated the ,  fallacy  before  me.  The  first  is,  that,  however  mixed  the 
party,  abolitionism  is  clearly  its  informing  and  actuating  soul ;  and  fan- 
aticism is  a  bloodhound  that  never  bolts  its  track  when  it  has  once 


2i6       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

lapped  blood.  The  elevation  of  their  candidates  is  far  from  being  the 
consummation  of  their  aims.  It  is  only  the  beginning  of  that  con- 
summation; and,  if  all  history  be  not  a  lie,  there  will  be  cohesion 
enough  till  the  end  of  the  beginning  is  reached,  and  the  dreadful  ban- 
quet of  slaughter  and  ruin  shall  glut  the  appetite.  The  second  consid- 
eration is  a  principle  which  I  cannot  blink.  It  is  nowhere  denied  that 
the  first  article  in  the  creed  of  the  now  dominant  party  is  the  restric- 
tion of  slavery  within  its  present  limits.  It  is  distinctly  avowed  by 
their  organs  and  in  the  name  of  their  elected  chieftain;  as  will  appear 
from  the  following  extract  from  an  article  written  to  pacify  the  South 
and  to  reassure  its  fears :  There  can  be  no  doubt  whatever  in  the  mind 
of  any  man,  that  Mr.  Lincoln  regards  slavery  as  a  moral,  social  and 
political  evil,  and  that  it  should  be  dealt  with  as  such  by  the  Federal 
Government,  in  every  instance  where  it  is  called  upon  to  deal  with  it  at 
all.  On  this  point  there  is  no  room  for  question — and  there  need  be  no 
misgivings  as  to  his  official  action.  The  whole  influence  of  the  Exec- 
utive Department  of  the  Government,  while  in  his  hands,  will  be  thrown 
against  the  extension  of  slavery  into  the  new  territories  of  the  Union, 
and  the  re-opening  of  the  African  slave  trade.  On  these  points  he 
will  make  no  compromise  nor  yield  one  hair's  breadth  to  coercion  from 
any  quarter  or  in  any  shape.  He  does  not  accede  to  the  alleged  de- 
cision of  the  Supreme  G)urt,  that  the  Constitution  places  slaves  upon 
the  footing  of  other  property,  and  protects  them  as  such  wherever  its 
jurisdiction  extends,  nor  will  he  be,  in  the  least  degree,  governed  or 
controlled  by  it  in  his  executive  action.  He  will  do  all  in  his  power, 
personally  and  officially,  by  the  direct  exercise  of  the  powers  of  his 
office,  and  the  indirect  influence  inseparable  from  it,  to  arrest  the 
tendency  to  make  slavery  national  and  perpetual,  and  to  place  it  in 
precisely  the  same  position  which  it  held  in  the  early  days  of  the  Re- 
public, and  in  the  view  of  the  founders  of  the  Government.' 

"Now  what  enigmas  may  be  couched  in  this  last  sentence — the 
sphinx  which  uttered  them  can  perhaps  resolve;  but  the  sentence  in 
which  they  occur  is  as  big  as  the  belly  of  the  Trojan  horse  which  laid 
the  city  of  Priam  in  ruins. 

"These  utterances  we  have  heard  so  long  that  they  fall  stale  upon 
the  ear;  but  never  before  have  they  had  such  significance.  Hitherto 
they  have  come  from  Jacobin  conventicles  and  pulpits,  from  the  ros- 
trum, from  the  hustings,  and  from  the  halls  of  our  national  Congress : 
but  always  as  the  utterances  of  irresponsible  men  or  associations  of 
men.  But  now  the  voice  comes  from  the  throne;  already,  before  clad 
with  the  sanctities  of  office,  ere  the  anointing  oil  is  poured  upon  the 
monarch's  head,  the  decree  has  gone  forth  that  the  institution  of 
Southern  slavery  shall  be  constrained  within  assigned  limits.  Though 
nature  and  Providence  should  send  forth  its  branches  like  the  banyan 
tree,  to  take  root  in  congenial  soil,  here  is  a  power  superior  to  both, 
that  says  it  shall  wither  and  die  within  its  own  charmed  circle. 


\ 

t 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  217 

"What  say  you  to  this,  to  whom  this  great  providential  trust  of  con-- 
serving  slavery  is  assigned?  'Shall  the  throne  of  iniquity  have  fel- 
lowship with  thee,  which  frameth  mischief  by  a  law?'  It  is  this  that 
makes  the  crisis.  Whether  we  will  or  not,  this  is  the  historic  moment 
when  the  fate  of  this  institution  hangs  suspended  in  the  balance.  De- 
cide either  way,  it  is  the  moment  of  our  destiny — ^the  only  thing  affected 
by  the  decision  is  the  complexion  of  that  destiny.  If  the  South  bows 
before  this  throne,  she  accepts  the  decree  of  restriction  and  ultimate 
extinction,  which  is  made  the  condition  of  her  homage. 

"As  it  appears  to  me,  the  course  to  be  pursued  in  this  emergency 
is  that  which  has  already  been  inaugurated.  Let  the  people  in  all 
the  Southern  States,  in  solemn  council  assembled,  reclaim  the  powers 
they  have  delegated.  Let  those  conventions  be  composed  of  men  whose 
fidelity  has  been  approved — ^men  who  bring  the  wisdom,  experience  and 
fimmess  of  age  to  support  and  announce  principles  which  have  long 
been  matured.  Let  these  conventions  decide  firmly  and  solemnly  what 
they  will  do  with  this  great  trust  committed  to  their  hands.  Let  them 
pledge  each  other  in  sacred  covenant,  to  uphold  and  perpetuate  what 
they  cannot  resign  without  dishonor  and  palpable  ruin.  Let  them 
further,  take  all  the  necessary  steps  looking  to  separate  and  independent 
existence;  and  initiate  measures  for  framing  a  new  and  homogeneous 
confederacy.  Thus,  prepared  for  every  contingency,  let  the  crisis  come. 
Paradoxical  as  it  may  seem,  if  there  be  any  way  to  save,  or  rather  to 
re-construct,  the  union  of  our  forefathers  it  is  this.  Perhaps,  at  the 
last  moment,  the  conservative  portions  of  the  North  may  awake  to 
see  the  abyss  into  which  they  are  about  to  plunge.  Perchance  they 
may  arise  and  crush  out  forever  the  abolition  hydra,  and  cast  it  into 
a  grave  from  which  there  shall  never  be  a  resurrection. 

"Thus,  with  restored  confidence,  we  may  be  rejoined  a  united  and 
happy  people.  But,  before  God,  I  believe  that  nothing  will  effect  this 
but  the  line  of  policy  which  the  South  has  been  compelled  in  self-pres- 
ervation to  adopt.  I  confess  frankly,  I  am  not  sanguine  that  such  an 
auspicious  result  will  be  reached.  Partly,  because  I  do  not  see  how 
new  guarantees  are  to  be  grafted  upon  the  Constitution,  nor  how, 
if  grafted,  they  can  be  more  binding  than  those  which  have  already 
been  trampled  under  foot;  but  chiefly,  because  I  do  not  see  how  such 
guarantees  can  be  elicited  from  the  people  at  the  North.  It  cannot 
be  disguised  that  almost  to  a  man  they  are  anti-slavery  where  they 
are  not  abolition.  A  whole  generation  has  been  educated  to  look  upon 
the  system  with  abhorrence  as  a  national  blot.  They  hope,  and  look, 
and  pray  for  its  extinction  within  a  reasonable  time,  and  cannot  be 
satisfied  unless  things  are  seen  drawing  to  that  conclusion.  We,  on 
the  contrary,  as  its  constituted  guardians,  can  demand  nothing  less 
than  that  it  should  be  left  open  to  expansion,  subject  to  no  limitations 
save  those  imposed  by  God  and  nature.  I  fear  the  antagonism  is  too 
great,  and  the  conscience  of  both  parties  too  deeply  implicated  to  allow 


2i8       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

such  a  composition  of  the  strife.  Nevertheless  since  it  is  within  the 
range  of  possibility  in  the  Providence  of  God,  I  would  not  shut  out  the 
alternative. 

"Should  it  fail,  what  remains  but  that  we  say  to  each  other,  calmly 
and  kindly,  what  Abraham  said  to  Lot:  'Let  there  be  no  strife,  I  pray 
thee,  between  me  and  thee,  and  between  my  herdmen  and  thy  herdmen, 
for  we  be  brethren:  Is  not  the  whole  land  before  thee?  Separate 
thyself,  I  pray  thee,  from  me  ...  if  thou  wilt  take  the  left  hand,  then  I 
will  go  to  the  right,  or  if  thou  depart  to  the  right  hand,  then  I  will  go 
to  the  left'  Thus,  if  we  cannot  save  the  Union,  we  may  save  the  in- 
estimable blessings  it  enshrines;  if  we  cannot  preserve  the  vase,  we 
will  preserve  the  precious  liquor  it  contains. 

"In  all  this  I  speak  for  the  North  no  less  than  for  the  South;  for 
upon  our  united  and  determined  resistance  at  this  moment  depends 
the  salvation  of  the  whole  country — in  saving  ourselves  we  shall  save 
the  North  from  the  ruin  she  is  madly  drawing  down  upon  her  own  head. 

"The  position  of  the  South  is  at  this  moment  sublime.  If  she  has 
grace  given  her  to  know  her  hour  she  will  save  herself,  the  country, 
and  the  world.  It  will  involve,  indeed,  temporary  prostration  and  dis- 
tress; the  dykes  of  Holland  must  be  cut  to  save  her  from  the  troops 
of  Philip.  But  I  warn  my  countrymen  the  historic  moment  once  passed, 
never  returns.  If  she  will  arise  in  her  majesty,  and  speak  now  as  with 
the  voice  of  one  man,  she  will  roll  back  for  all  time  the  curse  that  is 
upon  her.  If  she  succumbs  now,  she  transmits  that  curse  as  an  heir- 
loom of  posterity.  We  may,  for  a  generation,  enjoy  comparative  ease, 
gather  up  our  feet  in  our  beds,  and  die  in  peace;  but  our  children  will 
go  forth  beggared  from  the  homes  of  their  fathers.  Fishermen  will 
cast  their  nets  where  your  proud  commercial  navy  now  rides  at  anchor, 
and  dry  them  upon  the  shore  now  covered  with  your  bales  of  merchan- 
dise. Sapped,  circumvented,  undermined,  the  institutions  of  your 
soil  will  be  overthrown;  and  within  five  and  twenty  years  the  history 
of  St.  Domingo  will  be  the  record  of  Louisiana.  If  dead  men's  bones 
can  tremble,  ours  will  move  under  the  muttered  curses  of  sons  and 
daughters,  denouncing  the  blindness  and  love  of  ease  which  have  left 
them  an  inheritance  of  woe. 

"I  have  done  my  duty  under  as  deep  a  sense  of  responsibility  to  God 
and  man  as  I  have  ever  felt.  Under  a  full  conviction  that  the  salvation 
of  the  whole  country  is  depending  upon  the  action  of  the  South,  I 
am  impelled  to  deepen  the  sentiment  of  resistance  in  the  Southern 
mind  and  to  strengthen  the  current  now  flowing  toward  a  union  of  the 
South  in  defence  of  her  chartered  rights.  It  is  a  duty  which  I  shall 
not  be  called  to  repeat,  for  such  awful  junctures  do  not  occur  twice 
in  a  century.  Bright  and  happy  days  are  yet  before  us;  and  before 
another  political  earthquake  shall  shake  the  continent,  I  hope  to  be 
'where  the  wicked  cease  from  troubling  and  where  the  weary  are  at 
rest/ 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  219 

"It  only  remains  to  say,  that  whatever  be  the  fortunes  of  the  South, 
I  accept  them  for  my  own.  Bom  upon  her  soil,  of  a  father  thus  born 
before  me — from  an  ancestry  that  occupied  it  while  yet  it  was  a  part 
of  England's  possessions — she  is  in  every  sense  my  mother.  I  shall 
die  upon  her  bosom — she  shall  know  no  peril,  but  it  is  my  peril — no 
conflict,  but  it  is  my  conflict — and  no  abyss  of  ruin,  into  which  I  shall 
not  share  her  fall.  May  the  Lord  God  cover  her  head  in  this  her  day 
of  battie !" 

Says  Mr.  Wm.  O.  Rogers,*  of  this  "sermon" : 

"It  confirmed  and  strengthened  those  who  were  in  doubt;  it  gave 
directness  and  energy  to  public  sentiment — ^so  that  perhaps  no  other 
public  utterance  during  that  trying  period  of  anxiety  and  hesitancy 
did  so  much  to  bring  New  Orleans  city  and  the  entire  State  of  Louisi- 
ana squarely  and  fully  to  the  side  of  secession  and  the  Confederacy. 
The  spacious  auditorium  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  (of  New 
Orleans)  was  crowded  from  floor  to  gallery.  Many  prominent  members 
of  all  callings  and  professions  were  there.  Many  were  halting  between 
two  opinions.  New  Orleans  was  a  commercial  city  and  had  large 
interests  with  the  North.  It  was  cosmopolitah,  and,  particularly  in  its 
mercantile  classes,  related  in  many  ways  to  cities  of  the  North. 

"Contrary  to  his  usual  custom  Dr.  Palmer  had  written  his  sermon; 
and  read  it — slowly,  carefully,  with  constrained  voice — without  a  single 
gesture,  without  elevating  his  voice  in  any  sentence  during  the  hour  of 
its  delivery.  The  solemnity  of  the  audience  was  very  impressive.  The 
calmness  of  the  speaker  was  the  calmness  of  deep  emotion  held  in  check 
by  the  solemnity  of  the  occasion.  The  whole  sceqe  was  a  remarkable 
tribute  to  the  intellectual  and  moral  powers  of  the  speaker.  Sentences 
like  the  following,  coming  from  a  man  so  revered  and  esteemed,  fell 
upon  the  hearing  ear  with  great  power — 'to  protect  and  transmit  our 
existing  system  of  domestic  servitude  with  the  right,  unchanged  by  man, 
to  go  and  root  itself  wherever  Providence  and  nature  may  carry  it 
This  trust  we  will  discharge  in  the  face  of  the  worst  possible  peril. 
Though  war  be  the  aggregation  of  all  evils  yet  should  the  madness 
of  the  hour  appeal  to  the  arbitration  of  the  sword,  we  will  not  shrink 
even  from  the  baptism  of  fire.  If  modern  crusaders  stand  in  serried 
ranks  upon  some  plain  of  Esdraelon,  there  will  we  be  in  defence  of 
our  trust.     Not  till  the  last  man  has  fallen,  behind  the  last  rampart, 

•Mr.  Wm.  O.  Rogers,  residing  at  Madison,  N.  J.  in  IQC4, 
wrote  these  words  on  June  pth  of  that  year,  at  our  solicitation.  He  was 
an  eye  witness  and  an  auditor  of  that  which  he  describes.  He  was  long 
a  distinguished  citizen  of  New  Orleans,  a  member  of  Dr.  Palmer's 
church,  for  many  years  a  member  of  his  session,  and  a  close  personal 
friend,  a  gentleman  of  great  purity  and  dignity  of  character. 


220       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

shall  it  drop  from  our  hands,  and  then  only  in  surrender  to  the  God 
who  gave  it* 

•  •*■•■•••••• 

"It  has  been  my  good  fortune  to  hear  some  of  the  great  pulpit  and 
political  orators  of  my  generation,  but  I  cannot  recall  an  occasion  when 
the  effect  upon  the  audience  was  so  profound.  After  the  benediction, 
in  solemn  silence,  no  man  speaking  to  his  neighbor,  the  great  congrega- 
tion of  serious  and  thoughtful  men  and  women  dispersed;  but  after- 
wards the  drums  beat  and  the  bugles  sounded;  for  New  Orleans  was 
shouting  for  secession." 

An  editorial  in  the  Daily  Delta,  November  30,  i860,  says: 

"We  will  publish  in  Saturday's  Delta  the  Thanksgiving  sermon  de- 
livered at  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  yesterday  by  Dr.  Palmer. 
All  who  heard  that  great  discourse  declare  it  to  be  the  ablest  ever 
delivered  by  its  accomplished  author.  The  manly  and  patriotic  position 
taken  by  Dr.  Palmer  was  such  as  was  expected  by  those  familiar  with 
the  frank  and  decided  character  of  the  great  divine.  Dr.  Leacock,  of 
Christ's  Church,  and  the  Rev.  Mr.  Henderson,  were  as  decided  as  Dr. 
Palmer  in  their  advocacy  of  Southern  rights,  and  in  their  recommen- 
dations of  resistance  to  Northern  aggressions.  The  character  of  these 
discourses  is  too  important  to  be  disregarded.  They  are  expressions 
of  the  profound  and  universal  sentiments  of  the  community — a  senti- 
ment which  forces  itself  into  notice  through  every  channel,  and  which 
is  too  powerful  to  be  restrained  by  ordinary  forms  and  conventionali- 
ties. Only  a  pressing  sense  of  duty  to  the  highest  interests  of  that  so- 
ciety of  which  our  ministers  of  religion  are  in  part  the  recognized 
guardians,  could  have  compelled  this  seeming  departure  from  the  es- 
tablished customs  of  the  pulpit.  In  addition  to  these  considerations 
it  must  be  remembered  that  the  day  was  not  the  day  devoted  by  custom 
or  holy  ordinance  to  religious  service,  but  a  day  set  apart  by  the 
governor  of  the  State  to  be  observed  with  reference  to  our  secular  con- 
dition." 

Published  on  Saturday  in  the  Delta,  the  sermon  was  repub- 
lished in  the  Sunday  issue,  December  2,  i860.  On  the  first 
page  of  this  issue  appears  an  article  headed,  "Dr.  Palmer's 
Sermon  on  Thanksgiving  Day :  The  Pulpit  and  the  Times." 

Amongst  other  things  the  article  says : 

"A  great  political  emergency,  long  predicted  by  a  few,  long  dreaded 
yet  hoped  against  by  many,  and  obstinately  disbelieved  by  still  more, 
has  come  upon  us  and  scattered  parties  and  the  devices  of  politicians 
as  a  whirlwind  scatters  dust  and  rubbish.  At  such  a  time  the  voice 
of  faction  should  be  hushed.  At  such  a  time  it  is  for  the  patriot,  not 
the  partisan,  to  come  to  the  rescue  of  his  imperiled  country.    At  such 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  221 

a  time  the  political  catechism  for  Southern  men  is  plain  and  simple: 
The  South,  her  rights,  her  homes,  her  firesides,  for  life,  for  death,  swear 
to  defend  them,  whether  the  sky  may  become  bright  or  stmless,  whether 
the  stars  may  appear  or  disappear,  whether  the  gathering  storm  may 
roll  away  or  burst  in  torrents  of  fire. 

"It  is  in  an  hour  like  this  that  patriotism  rises  to  religion,  and  re- 
ligion derives  new  warmth  and  vigor  from  patriotism.  That  several 
of  our  clergymen  preached  sermons  Thanksgiving  Day  under  the  in- 
fluence of  such  a  spirit  is  no  matter  of  surprise.  It  would  have  been 
surprising  rather  if  they  had  not  done  so.  Our  clergymen,  after  all, 
are  men  and  not  mere  automatic  symbols  of  an  abstract  creed.  It  is 
too  late  to  say  that  the  question  of  negro  slavery,  which  is  made  the 
issue  upon  which  a  sectional  majority  wage  an  unrelenting  war  against 
the  South,  should  be  excluded  from  the  Southern  pulpit  because  the 
pulpit  has  no  business  with  politics.  The  moral  question  of  negro 
slavery  had  already  divided  the  greatest  religious  denominations  in 
the  Union  before  the  political  question  of  negro  slavery  began  to  break 
up  parties  and  split  the  Union  asunder.  The  anti-slavery  idea  began 
on  moral  grounds.  It  allied  itself  with  an  anti-Southern  party  to 
overcome  political  obstacles.  The  combination  has  thus  far  triumphed. 
The  Constitution,  which  was  in  their  way,  is  dead;  the  spirit  is  gone 
out  of  it;  its  corpse  is  in  their  possession.  The  corpse  of  the  South 
will  also  be  theirs,  unless  on  the  4th  of  March  the  South  shall  lay  the 
corpse  of  the  Union  at  their  feet.  Having  thus  triumphed  politically, 
the  anti-slavery  idea  now  resumes  its  original  character  as  a  moral 
question,  and  in  that  form  is  ready  to  do  the  deadly  work  of  sectional 
despotism.  Religion  involves  morality,  and  no  moral  question  can  justly 
be  excluded  from  the  pulpit  And,  therefore,  when  Dr.  Palmer,  on 
Thursday,  took  up  the  question  between  the  North  and  the  South, 
which  turns  on  the  anti-slavery  idea,  and  showed  that  this  idea  was  not 
only  morally  false,  but  was  to  be  used  as  an  instrument  for  overturning 
our  whole  social  fabric  and  plunging  us,  and  all  that  is  dear  to  us, 
in  an  abyss  of  disgrace  and  ruin  from  which  the  imagination  shrinks 
with  terror — when  he  did  this,  he  acted  the  part  of  a  clergyman  worthy 
of  his  calling;  he  acted  the  part  of  a  Christian  gentleman  and  scholar, 
of  a  Southern  patriot,  of  a  frank,  earnest,  brave,  and  a  high  souled  man. 

"The  discourse  we  refer  to  was  perhaps  about  two  hours  long;  and 
a  more  cogent,  exhaustive,  logical  and  impressive  production  of  not 
greater  length  we  never  met  with  coming  either  from  pulpit  or  rostrum. 
It  rose  far  above  the  conventional  forms  and  phrases  of  an  ordinary 
sermon.  It  rose  infinitely  above  the  usual  thought  and  rhetoric  of  a 
political  speech.  It  was  more  than  eloquent;  it  was  sacramental  in  its 
fervor.  But  the  language  of  praise  is  out  of  place  in  speaking  of  it. 
It  is  above  compliment.  It  was  an  event  of  the  time  passing,  and  a  sign 
of  the  time  at  hand.  It  will  be  sure  to  fire  the  hearts  and  stir  the  souls 
of  Southern  men  wherever  read,  while  through  the  glowing  words 
God  seems  to  whisper  to  them  of  noble  deeds." 


222       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

In  those  days  there  was  no  Delta  published  on  Monday.  In 
Tuesday's  Daily  Delta,  December  4,  i860,  the  sermon  appeared 
again;  and  amongst  the  editorial  notes,  the  following: 

**Dr.  Palmer's  Sermon. — Scarcely  any  apology  is  necessary  to  be  made 
to  our  readers  on  account  of  the  republication  of  Dr.  Palmer's  Sermon, 
which  appears,  for  the  third  time,  in  the  Delta  this  morning.  When  we 
state  that  we  reproduce  it  in  accordance  with  the  urgent  request  of  a 
large  member  of  our  friends,  and  to  supply  a  demand  which  seems  yet 
far  from  exhausted,  although  the  supply  from  this  office  alone  has 
exceeded  thirty  thousand  copies,  we  trust  that  no  further  explanation 
will  be  required." 

Nor  must  we  think  of  this  sermon  as  accessible  only  through 
the  columns  of  the  Delta;  the  papers  of  the  city  anci  the  State 
and  the  Southwest,  generally,  noticed  it  and  published  summar- 
ies of  it,  more  or  less  complete,  not  a  few  perhaps,  publishing 
the  whole  of  it.  Moreover,  on  the  day  of  its  delivery,  the  fol- 
lowing correspondence  touching  its  publication  in  a  different 
form  took  place: 

New  Orleans,  November  29,  i860. 

"Rev.  and  Dear  Sir:  We  doubt  not  that  the  discourse  delivered  by 
you  this  morning  was  influenced  by  a  high  sense  of  duty  and  responsi- 
bility. You  felt  that  the  times  demanded  its  utterance.  Many  of  us 
heard  it  delivered;  others  have  been  informed  of  its  tenor.  As  your 
fellow  citizens,  we  desire  for  your  own  sake  that  your  views  may  not 
be  misunderstood  or  misrepresented;  for  the  community's  sake,  that  it 
may  see  patently  before  it  an  argument  squarely  up  to  the  occasion; 
for  the  nation's  sake,  that  the  opinions  of  a  representative  man  may  be 
read  and  pondered.  We  ask  you  for  a  copy,  that  it  may  be  immediately 
published  and  widely  circulated. 

"With  sentiments  of  the  highest  regard,  we  remain 

"Your  fellow  citizens  and  friends, 

"William  A.  Elmore,  W.  R.  Miles,  J.  J.  Michie,  J.  R.  Macmurdo, 
Thomas  E.  Adams,  B.  S.  Tappan,  R.  P.  Hunt,  H.  D.  Ogden,  A.  C. 
Myers,  David  Bridges,  A.  A.  Kennett,  John  A.  French,  John  G.  Gaines, 
William  W.  King,  B.  M.  Pond,  William  G.  Austin,  John  Claiborne, 
W.  Rushton,  A.  C.  Hensley,  A.  R.  Ringgold,  William  .Bell,  Robert 
Ward,  Thomas  Hunton,  Charles  A.  Taylor,  Levy  Pearce,  J.  W.  Watson, 
W.  Henderson,  S.  Z.  Relf,  M.  M.  Simpson,  C.  Bell,  Thomas  Allen 
Clark. 

"Rev.  B.  M.  Palmer,  D.D.,  New  Orleans." 

"New  Orleans,  November  29,  i860. 
"Rev.  B.  M.  Palmer,  D.D. 
"Dear  Sir:  The  undersigned,  members  of  your  congregation,  be- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  223 

lieving  and  sympathizing  in  the  sentiments  of  your  eloquent  address, 
delivered  on  this,  29th  inst,  Thanksgiving  Day,  and  that  it  should  he 
read  by  every  citizen  of  the  United  States,  beg  you  to  furnish  a  copy 
for  publication,  and  oblige, 

"Respectfully,  your  obedient  Arvants, 
"H.  T.  Lonsdale,  A.  H.  Gladden,  R.  B.  Sumner,  H.  W.  Conner,  Jr., 
W.  B.  Ritchie,  ^dward  Dillon,  George  O.  Sweet,  William  P.  Campbell, 
Robert  A  Grinnan,  S.  W.  Dalton." 

"New  Orleans,  November  29,  i860. 
"To  Messrs,  H.  T.  Lonsdale,  R.  B.  Sumner,  A.  H.  Gladden,  and  others; 
and  to  Messrs,  W,  A.  Elmore,  W.  G,  Austin,  W.  R.  Miles,  and  others: 
"Gentlemen:  That  two  communications  should  be  received  from 
di£Ferent  sources,  requesting  my  discourse  of  this  day  for  publication, 
is  sufficient  proof  that  I  have  spoken  to  the  heart  of  this  community. 
The  sermon  is  herewith  placed  at  your  disposal,  with  the  earnest  de- 
sire that  it  may  contribute  something  toward  rallying  our  whole  people 
to  the  issue  that  is  upon  us. 

"Respectfully  and  gratefully  yours, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

Accordingly  a  handsome  pamphlet  edition,  probably  a  large 
one,  was  also  scattered  Broadcast  over  the  land. 

There  can  be  no  question  that  throughout  his  belt — ^the 
South  Carolina  belt  of  influence — his  "thanksgiving  sermon" 
was  generally  regarded  as  correct  in  its  theory  of  the  subject 
discussed  and  suited  to  the  crisis  of  the  country;  however, 
much  doubt  was  entertained  here  and  there  as  to  tiie  propriety 
of  a  Gospel  minister's  expressing  all  these  views  in  God's  house. 

The  divisive  consequences  which  usually  flow  from  politi- 
cal preaching  were  not  wanting.  A  few  of  his  people  broke 
with  him  that  day,  though  it  came  near  to  breaking  their  hearts 
to  do  it.  The  time  came  when  the  wisdom  of  his  course  in 
preaching  that  sermon  seemed  less  apparent ;  indeed,  he  is  said 
to  have  repented  preaching  the  discourse,  though  the  day  never 
came  when  he  took  an  essentially  different  view  of  the  great 
subject  discussed. 

His  domestic  relations  during  these  years  were  not  without 
lines  of  interest.  Before  the  removal  of  his  family  to  New 
Orleans  he  established  their  home  first  in  a  house  on  the  cor- 
ner of  St.  Joseph  and  St.  Charles  streets.  They  lived  here, 
however,  but  one  year,  moving  thence  to  the  corner  of  Thalia 
and  Prytania  streets.  In  this  house  they  lived  for  two  years. 
Here  in  the  summer  of  1858  the  yellow  fever  found  them. 
Their  household,  including  servants,  numbered  twelve  persons 


224       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

at  the  time.  Out  of  the  twelve,  eleven  members  of  the  house- 
hold had  the  fever.  The  first  to  have  it  was  Mrs.  Palmer ;  her 
case  was  very  bad.  About  the  same  time,  Mr.  Axson,  a  cousin 
of  Dr.  Palmer  and  at  the  time  a  member  of  the  household,  was 
aflfected  with  the  disorder.  Mrs.  Palmer  and  Mr.  Axson  were 
scarcely  convalescent  when  the  children  and  the  servants  were 
seized  by  it.  Their  cases  were  relatively  mild,  however.  Dr. 
Palmer  was  the  last  of  his  family  to  take  it.  He  had  been 
going  heroically  about,  ministering  to  the  sick  in  his  own 
house  and  to  the  sick  and  dying  of  the  city,  with  apparent 
impunity.  But,  late  in  October,  when  all  were  looking  hope- 
fully forward  to  the  coming  of  the  blessed  frost  and  when  his 
friends  were  beginning  to  feel  that  he  would  pass  through 
the  pestilence  untouched,  he,  too,  was  taken.  His  case  was  bad ; 
he  was  exceedingly  ill. 

The  Old  School  Assembly  of  1858  had  met  in  New  Orleans. 
It  was  in  this  home  that  Dr.  Palmer  had  received  and  enter- 
tained the  distinguished  men  whom  that  Assembly  had  brought 
to  his  doors :  such  as  A.  T.  McGill,  Cortland  Van  Rensaelaer, 
Lewis  W.  Green,  R.  J.  Breckenridge,  Wm.  J.  Hoge,  George 
Howe,  L  S.  K.  Axson,  etc.,  of  the  ministers,  and  elders  of 
scarcely  less  note. 

In  1859,  the  congregation  purchased  for  a  manse  the  com- 
modious mansion  now  numbered  1415  Prytania  Street  (63 
old  Prytania) .  Here  the  family  was  to  live,  while  in  New  Or- 
leans, till  1 89 1.  The  house  was  an  excellent  one  for  its  day, 
three  stories,  with  ceilings  of  ample  pitch,  with  large  rooms, 
and  abundant  offices  and  quarters  in  the  rear  for  the  accommo- 
dation of  a  considerable  number  of  servants.  After  its  further 
adaptation,  in  1866,  to  Dr.  Palmer's  needs,  by  the  addition 
of  a  study  at  the  side,  it  was  a  most  desirable  domicile  and 
well  suited  for  the  uses  and  character  of  the  most  distinguished 
pastor  of  his  city  and  his  section.  The  dignity  of  its  spacious 
parlors  and  chambers,  the  solid  mahogany  staircase  and  folding 
doors  impress  the  visitor  of  to-day. 

This  house  was  to  be  the  scene  of  much  happiness,  of  a 
high  rational  and  spiritual  order.  It  was  to  be  the  scene  of 
much  sorrow,  which  would  not,  however,  be  overwhelming. 
The  Palmers  were  not  to  sorrow  as  those  who  have  no  hope. 
One  of  the  daughters  was  to  be  married  in  this  house.  All 
of  his  grandchildren  were  to  be  born  there.  From  the  same 
house  three  of  his  daughters  were  to  be  carried  to  the  grave. 


OF 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  225 

There  was  a  fine  side  yard  with  some  splendid  trees  in  it,  from 
which,  as  from  all  he  looked  upon  in  his  daily  life,  Dr.  Palmer 
is  said  to  have  drawn  some  noble  illustrations  for  use  in  the 
pulpit. 

This  house  was  to  be  the  home  not  only  of  his  own  immedi- 
ate family  but  of  many  others  whom  he  would  yearn  to  help. 
"He  always  had  some  who  needed  help  in  his  house,  boys  or 
girls,  young  men  or  young  women." 

It  was  his  custom  to  declare  that  he  had  left  the  business 
of  disciplining  his  children  to  his  wife ;  that  he  had  made  only 
two  attempts  at  disciplining  thjcm  and  had  been  forced  to 
conclude  that  Mrs.  Palmer  was  better  adapted  to  that  form 
of  ministry  than  he  was.  One  of  these  fruitless  attempts  was 
to  secure  obedience  from  his  little  boy,  on  occasion  of  an 
issue's  having  been  made  between  them.  The  other  was  to 
teach  one  of  his  little  girls  her  letters.  Mrs.  Palmer  seems  to 
have  been  wise  and  skillful  4n  the  management  of  her  children. 
Her  husband  felt  that  he  might  safely  leave  the  matter  in  her 
hands.  The  relegation  of  other  forms  of  attention  to  his 
children,  even  to  his  best  beloved,  he  would  never  make.  He 
was  a  most  affectionate  father ;  and  as  interested  as  affection- 
ate. He  counted  not  his  time  too  valuable  to  be  g^ven  in  due 
measure  to  his  children's  development. 

In  1857,  in  order  to  their  escaping  the  scourge  of  yellow 
fever,  he  sent  his  wife  and  children  back  to  Columbia  to  pass 
the  summer.  The  living  children  were  all  girls.  They  were 
Sarah  Frances,  bom  September  19,  1844;  Mary  Howe,  born 
September  i,  1847;  Augusta  Barnard,  bom  June  23,  1849; 
Kate  Gordon,  born  August  23,  1853 ;  Marion  Louisa,  born  Jan- 
uary 10,  1856.  Once  each  week  he  would  write  to  one  of  his 
daughters.  He  began  by  writing  to  the  oldest.  Between  her 
and  himself  quite  a  correspondence  developed.  All  these  letters 
to  his  children  are  redolent  of  the  happiest  family  life.  Some 
of  them  are  valuable  not  only  for  the  glimpse  they  afford  of 
that  life  but  for  incidental  light  thrown  on  other  aspects  of 

his  life: 

"New  Orleans,  June  29,  1857. 
"My  Dear  Fanny:  I  do  not  know  whether  you  will  be  expecting  a 
letter  from  father;  but  I  am  very  sure  you  will  be  very  glad  to  receive 
one,  and  to  know  from  it  how  fondly  you  are  remembered  and  loved. 
It  is  a  long  time  since  there  was  an  opportunity  of  writing  you,  simply 
because  of  late  we  have  not  been  separated ;  and  you  are  now  grown  into 
such  a  big  girl  and  have  so  improved  yourself  by  study,  that  I  may 

15 


226       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

write  to  you  very  much  as  I  would  to  mother,  without  striving  after 
unusual  simplicity  of  style — ^such  as  I  must  use  for  Mary  and  Gussie 
that  they  may  easily  understand  me. 

"It  frightens  me  almost  to  think  how  fast  you  are  growing  up  into 
a  woman.  Almost  thirteen  nowl  Why  we  shall  only  turn  round  two 
or  three  times  before  you  will  be  a  young  lady,  and  I  of  course  must 
begin  to  try  and  feel  old.  Be  assured,  my  dear  daughter,  I  am  not 
anxious  to  have  it  so.  If  it  were  possible,  I  should  like  to  keep  you  all 
children  for  many  years  just  as  you  are  now,  so  that  the  house  might 
always  be  stmny  and  glad,  as  you  children  make  it  now.  But  as  this 
cannot  be,  I  am  only  anxious  that  you  should  rapidly  improve  your 
mind,  and  get  that  knowledge  which  as  a  woman  you  will  need,  in 
order  to  be  happy  and  useful  yourself,  and  that  you  may  be  honored 
and  loved  by  others.  Mother  writes  me  that  you  have  commenced 
your  French  and  drawing.  I  am  glad  of  it,  provided  you  are  not  too 
closely  confined.  You  have  been  kept  very  close  all  winter,  and  have 
studied  very  faithfully  at  school  and  I  am  desirous  that  you  should 
romp  and  play,  so  as  to  be  strong  for  study  next  winter.  Still,  you  may 
learn  a  little  French  with  ease,  so  that  you  and  I  can  follow  it  uq.  and 
talk  it  together,  as  I  am  a  learner,  too.  The  drawing  too  will  be  a 
pleasant  amusement;  and  will  keep  alive  your  talent  for  that  beautiful 
art.  It  is  my  wish,  if  God  spares  my  life,  to  make  you  an  accomplished 
lady,  but  of  course,  very  much  will  depend  upon  you.  I  am  willing 
to  spend  money  freely  for  your  good ;  but  all  the  teachers  and  masters 
in  the  world  cannot  benefit  you,  unless  you  put  your  mind  earnestly 
to  it  and  determine  to  profit  by  their  instructions.  But,  my  darling,  if 
I  am  anxious  to  have  you  wise  and  learned,  this  is  nothing  to  the  in- 
tense desire  I  have  to  see  you  pious  and  good.  Oh,  my  daughter,  you 
do  not  know  how  many  thoughts  I  have  on  this  subject;  and  how  often 
and  fervently  I  pray  that  God  would  give  you  a  new  heart.  Do  you 
remember  two  years  ago  this  very  month  when  you  were  so  ill,  how 
alarmed  you  were;  how  you  talked  with  me,  and  told  me  you  were 
afraid  to  die  because  you  felt  that  you  were  not  ready?  I  hoped  when 
you  got  well,  that  you  would  remember  all  this;  and  that  you  would 
be  so  grateful  to  God  for  sparing  your  life,  as  to  give  him  your  heart 
at  once.  But  I  was  disappointed — ^you  got  well,  and  then  forgot  all 
these  solemn  things.  I  do  not  know  how  much  you  think  about  your 
soul,  and  whether  you  pray  fervently  for  a  new  heart  But  I  am 
afraid  you  do  not:  and  you  are  now  two  years  older,  and  know  more 
than  you  did  then.  If  you  should  be  taken  sick  and  die  as  you  are, 
it  would  make  me  miserable  the  rest  of  my  life;  and  though  you  did 
not  know  it,  it  was  as  much  to  remove  all  risk  from  you  (as  aught  else), 
that  I  was  willing  to  send  you  all  from  me  this  summer.  I  said,  who 
can  tell  but  God  will  hear  my  prayer  and  give  her  a  new  heart  before 
next  summer,  and  then  I  will  not  fear  for  my  dear  child's  soul  as  I  do 
now.     Dear,   dear   Fanny,   will  you   not  think  about   these   things — 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  227 

think  what  a  wicked  heart  you  have — ^that  unless  it  is  changed,  you  can- 
not go  to  heaven — ^that  you  may  die  any  moment,,  and  be  lost  forever  ? 
Think,  too,  how  ready  Christ  is  to  save  you,  if  you  will  only  go  to  him 
— and  then  delay  not — go  at  once  to  him,  my  daughter,  and  be  saved 
through  his  grace. 

**  I  have  now  filled  my  sheet  and  must  stop,  though  it  is  so  small  that 
it  will  not  allow  a  long  talk  at  one  time.  Tell  Grandmother  and  Grand- 
father, Emily,  Archie  and  George  all  'Howdye'  for  me,  and  kiss  mother 
and  sisters  in  my  stead.  I  would  be  glad  if  you  would  write  me  a  letter, 
even  though  it  should  be  a  great  deal  shorter  than  this.  Just  to  hear 
you  say  'dear  Father*  will  do  me  good  in  my  loneliness.     Good-bye. 

"Your  ever-loving  father, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

"New  Orleans^  Saturday,  July  4,  1857. 

"My  Dear  Little  Molly:  A  few  days  ago  I  wrote  a  letter  to  Sister 
Fanny:  and  as  Papa  loves  all  his  little  daughters  just  alike,  he  must 
try  to  write  in  turn  to  each  one  that  is  old  enough  to  understand  what 
he  says.  Dear  little  Marion,  for  example,  could  hardly  read  a  letter, 
or  know  its  meaning  if  mother  should  read  it  to  her;  so  she  will  be 
satisfied  if  I  only  send  a  kiss,  which  you  or  Mama  may  give  her  for 
me:  only  be  sure  to  tell  her  that  it  is  Papa's  kiss,  not  Mam/s.  Sweets 
Kate,  too,  cannot  read,  you  know;  but  she  has  sense  enough  to  under- 
stand every  word  of  a  little,  wee-wee  letter,  if  mother  reads  it  care- 
fully to  her;  so,  dear  little  soul,  she  shall  come  in  for  her  share  after 
a  while.  You  see  that  I  begin  at  the  top  and  go  down  regularly  to 
the  bottom.  Fanny  being  the  oldest  daughter  stands  at  the  head  of 
my  little  class:  you  come  next;  and  Gussie,  because  a  little  younger, 
comes  next  to  you;  and  then  Katy,  last.  Marion  must  be  content  yet 
awhile  to  snug  up  to  Mama's  bosom,  and  enjoy  her  teat-tie. 

"I  was  sorry,  dear  sweet  Mol,  to  learn  from  one  of  Mother's  letters 
that  you  were  not  very  well:  that  poor  little  head  of  yours  aches  oftener 
than  I  would  have  it  do — and  that  little  body,  too,  is  so  thin  and  lean. 
I  am  afraid  it  has  not  juice  enough  in  it.  Well,  you  must  eat  and  play 
— ^then  you  must  play  and  eat — take  a  plenty  of  sleep  besides :  and  so  by 
dint  of  eating,  playing  and  sleeping,  you  will  perhaps  grow  fat  and 
strong,  and  be  ready  for  school  next  winter  and  bring  me  such  good 
reports  as  you  did  last  winter,  with  ever  so  many  extra  credits,  and 
without  any  checks.  Fanny  used  to  be  thin  and  puny,  just  as  you  are 
now;  and  I  hope,  by  and  by,  you  will  change  and  become  hearty  and 
plump,  too:  all  in  good  time,  if  we  are  only  patient,  and  do  what  is 
right 

"How  does  the  music  come  on?  Mother  has  not  said  a  word  about 
that  in  any  of  her  letters.  Sometimes,  I  fancy  the  piano  is  going  down- 
stairs ;  and  I  stop  to  listen  for  the  duet : — ah  then,  it  comes  l>ack  to  me, 
that  the  little  fingers  of  my  two  sweet  musicians  are  a  thousand  miles 
off,  and  that  no  breeze  that  blows  is  strong  enough  to  bring  so  far  the 


228       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

delightful  notes  which  I  would  like  so  much  to  hear.  Still  I  hope 
Grandmother  hears  them  sometimes,  and  is  right  glad  that  she  has  such 
little  dears  by  her  to  love  and  pet.  I  take  it  for  granted,  you  see,  that 
you  behave  very  good,  so  that  Grandmother  can  pet  and  love — not 
exactly  take  for  granted  either:  because  Mother  said,  in  a  letter,  that 
the  children  were  behaving  very  well  indeed — and  this  made  me  so 
very  happy,  that  if  I  could  do  it,  I  would  hug  and  kiss  you  all  in  turn. 
It  pleases  me,  too,  that  in  every  letter  I  get  Mother  has  not  been 
obliged  to  take  back  her  good  word,  but  on  the  contrary  leaves  me  to 
believe  that  all  my  daughters  are  pleasant  and  well-behaved.  This 
makes  me  glad,  and,  just  a  little,  proud  of  my  girls,  whom  I  want  every 
body  to  love.  Do  you  wish  to  know  the  secret  of  being  loved?  I  will 
tell  you,  in  a  little  story  about  Dr.  Doddridge's  daughter.  She  was  a 
sweet  girl  whom  everybody  fondled  and  praised.  Her  father  said 
to  her  one  day,  *Mary,  my  daughter,  why  is  it  that  everybody  loves 
you  so?*  And  she  answered  very  quickly,  *I  do  not  know,  Papa,  unless 
it  is  because  I  love  everybody.'  Ahl  that  is  the  great  secret:  You 
love  me,  and  I'll  love  you — ^isn't  that  fair?  Remember  this  now,  my 
pet,  all  your  life:  be  always  kind  and  loving;  and  the  love  of  others 
will  always  rest  upon  you,  fresh  and  sweet,  like  the  dew  upon  a  rose- 
bud. There  is  one  above  all  others  whose  love  I  wish  my  Mary  to 
enjoy.  Can  you  guess  who  that  is?  It  is  God,  my  child:  I  pray  to 
God  every  day  that  he  would  love  you.  But  how  can  he  love  you  with 
a  proud  and  wicked  heart?  Ask  him  to  give  you  a  better  heart  so 
that  he  may  love  you  tenderly :  I  mean  a  heart  that  will  love  him  in  re- 
turn. Would  it  not  be  strange  if  you  did  not  love  your  father  and 
mother,  who  have  always  been  so  kind  to  you?  But  is  not  God  much 
kinder  than  they  are?  Does  he  not  give  you  everything,  even  those 
very  parents  who  cherish  you,  and  those  sweet  sisters  with  whom  you 
are  so  happy  all  the  time?  You  are  old  enough  now  to  think  about 
the  blessed  Savior  that  died  for  us;  and  to  pray  for  a  new  heart,  with 
which  to  love  him  forever.  But  I  must  stop  now.  Kiss  Mother  for  me 
and  all  the  sisters  from  Fanny  down  to  Marion,  and  Grandmother,  and 
all  whom  you  and  I  love.     Good-bye, 

"Your  loving  father, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 
"This  is  the  4th  of  July — it  is  very  noisy  in  the  streets.  The  soldiers 
are  out  parading,  and  one  very  handsome  company  has  just  passed  by 
the  door,  called  the  Continentals.  Ask  Fanny  if  she  can  tell  who  the 
Continentals  were  and  why  people  make  so  much  noise  on  the  4th  of 
July,  the  men  with  their  cannon,  and  the  boys  with  crackers?  If  she 
cannot,  ask  Grandfather,  and  then  watch  how  his  big  chest  will  swell 
as  he  tells  you  a  long  and  bright  story  of  the  old  time  when  heroes 
lived.    You  will  read  it  for  yourself,  by  and  by." 

"New  Orleans,  Monday,  July  13,  1857. 
"Come  here,  Katy  Darling:  and  stand  by  Mother's  knee,  and  with 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  229 

those  two  bright  black  eyes  see  a  whole  letter  written  to  my  Jittle 
girl,  and  all  of  it  to  herself.  What  a  pity  you  cannot  read  it!  Then 
you  would  snatch  it  away,  and  run  off  into  a  corner  all  alone,  and 
nobody,  not  even  Mama,  should  know  a  word,  until  you  had  drunk  all 
the  freshness  out  of  it  with  those  two  black  eyes.  Well,  one  of  these 
days  you  will  be  able  to  read  all  the  letters  that  come  to  you,  and  to 
write  you  own  besides — and  perhaps  one  of  these  days,  a  long  way  off 
I  hope,  you  will  get  letters  from  some  sweetheart  or  other,  that  will 
read  finer  than  Papa's:  and,  I  guess  when  that  day  comes,  you  will 
have  the  reading  of  those  letters  all  to  yourself.  But  just  now,  you 
will  be  obliged  to  read  this  with  Mama's  eyes,  and  she  will  have  to 
tell  you  all  that  is  in  it:  and  I  fancy  I  can  see  you  now  listening 
and  laughing  as  Mother  goes  slowly  and  carefully  over  these  lines. 

"I  wonder  what  I  can  find  to  write  about,  that  my  little  Katy  will 
care  to  hear.  Shall  I  attempt  to  tell  her  how  much  Father  loves  his 
darling?  I  could  only  say,  as  you  used  to  say,  when  you  hugged  me 
round  my  neck,  'with  all  my  heart,*  and  then  you  would  be  apt  to 
answer,  'Oh,  Pal  I  know  all  that  already:  tell  me  something  new.  Is 
there  any  use  to  sit  down  and  write  a  letter  to  go  a  great  way  off, 
just  to  tell  somebody  you  love  them  very  much?'  Ah!  my  daughter, 
when  you  get  bigger  you  will  find  out  that  the  oldest  things  are 
always  the  sweetest  Isn't  that  funny?  Yet  so  it  is.  Ask  Mama  if 
she  ever  gets  tired  hearing  Father  say  he  loves  her,  although  she  has 
been  hearing  it  almost  eighteen  years.  I  reckon  if  she  hears  it  for 
eighteen  years  to  come,  it  will  be  just  as  new  as  ever.  So  you  see, 
some  old  things  always  keep  new,  and  love  is  one  of  them.  So  Father 
will  say  it  over  again,  that  he  loves  little  Katy  darling  'more  than 
tongue  can  tell,'  and  he  longs  to  see  her,  to  take  her  up  in  his  arms, 
and  kiss  her;  and  to  hear  her  sweet  merry  voice  chirping  about  the 
house  like  a  canary,  only  a  great  deal  sweeter  and  softer.  Enough, 
however,  of  love  for  this  time! 

"Shall  I  tell  you  all  about  my  visit  over  the  lake?  How  I  got  into 
a  big  boat  that  went  pufijng  and  blowing  like  a  great  whale  through 
the  water? — and  came  in  the  evening  to  a  beautiful  beach,  and  went  up 
to  a  fine  house,  with  a  nice  plat  of  green  grass  stretching  out  in  front? 
And  how  I  rode  on  a  beautiful  horse,  and  sailed  in  an  elegant  boat 
that  swam  like  a  duck,  and  fished  but  caught  nothing  but  some  miser- 
able good-for-nothing  catfish.  By  the  way  let  me  tell  you  about  the 
horse  I  rode.  He  was  a  great  pet  of  his  young  master,  who  taught  him 
to  do  all  sorts  of  funny  things.  He  would  come  and  eat  sugar  out  of 
his  hand,  and  then  he  would  lie  down  upon  the  grass  by  him,  and  if 
you  go  up  to  him  and  say,  'How  d'ye  do,  Noty,'  he  will  take  up  his 
big  hoof  and  put  it  in  your  hand  as  reasonable  as  any  man  that  wants 
to  shake  hands.  I  never  saw  such  a  funny  horse  but  once  before :  and 
that  one  would  carry  his  master's  cigar  to  the  kitchen  and  bring  it  back 
lighted  for  him. 


230       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"Maum  Maria  has  just  come  in  to  say  that  I  must  send  her  love  to 
Mama  and  all  the  children,  and  to  your  Maumma  and  that  all  the  black 
people  send  their  respects  to  her  besides.  Be  sure  now  to  deliver  this 
message,  as  Maria  was  very  particular  in  giving  it  to  me.  Maria  takes 
good  care  of  Father — on  Saturday,  besides  an  excellent  dinner,  she  got 
at  market  some  soft  peaches,  and  a  muskmelon  for  dessert,  so  that  with 
a  plenty  of  sweet  figs  and  a  little  milk,  I  made  out  capitally.  We  are 
very  lucky  in  getting  such  a  cook.  Mr.  Markham  stayed  with  me  last 
night,  and  is  sitting  down  at  the  breakfast  table  with  me.  He  sends 
love  to  everybody,  and  a  special  kiss  to  Katy.  Tell  Mother  that  every 
Sunday  night  I  go  up  to  the  Campbells'  or  Blacks'  after  preaching, 
and  get  a  nice  plate  of  clabber  and  sometimes  of  peaches  and  milk. 
Mrs.  Campbell  sends  her  love,  and  little  Palmer  is  better. 

"Good-bye,  now,  my  daughter.  Be  a  good  little  grirl  and  mind  every- 
thing Mother  and  Grandmother  say  to  you.  Kiss  them  both  for  me, 
and  kiss  dear  little  Marion,  and  don't  let  her  forget  her  Papa  that 
she  used  to  love  so  much. 

"Your  loving  father, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

"New  Orleans,  July  16,  1857. 

"My  Dear  Fanny:  I  received  some  days  ago  your  sweet  letter,  for 
which  I  owe  you  many  thanks;  especially  as  you  wrote  of  your  own 
accord,  and  before  mine  to  you  had  time  to  come  to  hand.  It  is  very 
pleasant  to  have  such  mutual  recognition,  when  absent  from  one  an- 
other; so  that  the  letters  pass  each  other  on  the  road,  showing  that 
without  concert,  each  party  is  thinking  of  the  other  at  almost  the 
same  moment.  There  are  very  few  hours  of  the  day  when  Father's 
thoughts  do  not  wander  off  to  Columbia,  up  and  down  its  shady  streets, 
and  linger  about  Grandmother's  house,  which  contains  just  now  all 
his  earthly  treasures;  and  it  is  very  comforting  to  know  that  amid  all 
your  sports  and  joys,  you  send  off  now  and  then  a  stray  thought  to 
look  me  up  in  these  lonely  bachelor  quarters  where  I  am  now,  as  gloomy 
as  a  ship  at  quarantine. 

"I  must  give  you  credit,  too,  for  having  written  a  very  excellent  letter. 
I  read  it  over  and  over,  with  a  good  deal  of  satisfaction  and  pride.* 
The  handwriting  was  uncommonly  fine,  showing  that  you  will  soon, 
with  a  little  pains,  make  a  capital  penwoman:  and  the  style  was  easy 
and  flowing,  so  that  you  will  one  of  these  days  make  a  superb  letter 
writer.  Do  not  say  Pshaw!  to  all  this:  for  when  we  do  well,  it  is 
right  to  be  praised;  and  we  may  take  it  modestly  and  be  encouraged. 
By  the  way,  Mrs.  Bartlett  begs  you  to  write  to  her.  She  says,  she 
tried  to  make  you  promise  to  do  so,  but  could  not  succeed.  She  will 
excuse  all  mistakes;  and  if  you  are  afraid  of  making  any,  you  might 
get  Mother  to  correct  your  letter  and  then  copy  it  off.  But  write  to 
me,  my  child,  if  you  make  a  thousand  errors;  for  Father's  eye  will 
look  very  forgivingly  upon  them  for  the  love  which  prompts  you  to 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  231 

write  at  all,  and  besides,  this  is  the  best  way  to  improve.  You  would 
laugh,  almost  to  kill  yourself,  if  you  could  hear  my  blunders  in  French 
with  Mr.  Guillet;  and  yet  we  rattle  on,  just  as  though  it  was  all  right. 
A  Frenchman,  you  know,  is  too  polite  to  laugh  at  anybody;  and  yet 
I  see  Mr.  Quillet's  mustache  twitching  every  now  and  then,  as  though 
it  would  do  him  good  to  take  a  hearty  laugh. 

"The  mosquitos  are  beginning  to  be  veiy  bad.  Hitherto  they  have 
not  troubled  me  much,  and  I  had  begun  to  think  they  were  not  worse 
than  in  Columbia.  But  they  sting  and  bite  now  pretty  sharply,  and 
keep  my  feet  in  a  fever  all  day  long.  I  am  afraid  I  shall  have  to  take 
to  boots  again,  which  I  have  pretty  well  discarded,  as  they  trouble 
my  feet  more  than  hands  or  face.  At  night  I  bid  them  defiance  in  my 
net 

'Tell  Mother  Tom  has  gone  to  a  large  dinner  party  to-day,  and  ask 
her  if  she  does  not  think  this  is  a  new  kink,  quite  'a  getting  up  stairs,' 
or  at  least  high  life  in  the  kitchen.  She  will  scold  me  for  being  so 
indulgent;  but  Tom  has  really  been  so  well-behaved  that  I  was  disposed 
to  grant  him  this  dispensation,  and  I  am  a  soft  body  anyhow,  that  can't 
say  no,  perhaps  when  I  ought. 

"I  hope,  dear  Fanny,  that  among  you  all  you  will  not  allow  little 
Marion  to  forget  to  say  Papa,  and  that  she  will  not  fail  to  recognize 
me  when  I  come  on.  I  do  miss  the  dear  little  toad  so  much :  and  fancy 
sometimes  when  I  come  into  the  room  that  she  is  running  for  my  slip- 
pers, and  seating  me  in  the  chair.  You  cannot  imagine  how  much 
happiness  Mother  and  I  feel  in  the  dear  children;  and  what  hopes  we 
have  of  them,  that  they  will  be  useful  and  pious.  You  must  all  try 
not  to  disappoint  us. 

"I  wish  you  were  here  to  get  some  of  this  good  fruit.  Everybody 
is  sending  me  plates  of  figs,  till  I  am  overrun  with  them;  they  are  the 
sweetest  I  ever  ate.  Maria  manages  to  provide  me  a  muskmelon  for 
my  breakfast  every  morning,  and  a  good  plate  of  soft  peaches  for  my 
dinner,  so  that  I  fare  rather  luxuriously ;  but  the  fruit  would  be  sweeter 
if  shared  with  those  I  love.  Kiss  dear  Mother  for  me  and  Grand- 
mother, and  all  the  sisters,  and  tell  all  the  servants  'Howdye,'  and  love 
to  Emily  and  the  rest    Write  again  to  me  and  cheer  me  up. 

"Your  ever-loving  father, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

"New  Orleans,  Wednesday,  July  29,  1857. 
"My  Dear  Daughter:  It  was  with  great  delight  I  broke  the  seal  of 
your  letter  written  on  the  24th,  although  from  the  direction  on  the 
back  I  at  first  supposed  it  was  from  your  mother.  It  makes,  however, 
an  agreeable  variety  to  receive  sometimes  a  letter  from  you  as  well 
as  from  her:  and  you  shall  not  go  without  your  reward  for  the  efiPort 
you  make  toward  a  correspondence.  You  shall  always  have  a  speedy 
answer,  as  often  as  you  may  write;  if  only  to  convince  you  how  great 


232       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

is  the  satisfaction  I  derive  from  every  love  note  you  dispatch  to  your 
lonesome  father. 

"I  am  sorry  to  hear  that  your  eye  is  still  painful ;  and  I  have  already 
written  to  your  mother  that  you  had  better  intermit  all  your  studies, 
until  it  is  entirely  well.  You  must  be  careful  not  to  try  it  too  much, 
as  this  keeps  up  the  irritation  and  prevents  its  restoration.  It  is  better 
that  French,  drawing  and  music  should  all  go  by  the  board  for  a  time, 
than  that  you  should  be  disabled  from  all  study  by  a  lasting  weakness 
of  eyesight.  The  next  five  years  of  your  life  are  of  unspeakable  im- 
portance to  you,  since  they  are  the  years  in  which  you  are  to  obtain  your 
education.  What  you  are  to  be  through  life,  and  indeed  what  you  are 
to  be  through  all  eternity,  will  depend  upon  what  you  shall  learn  during 
these  five  years.  I  would  not,  therefore,  for  a  great  deal,  have  any 
serious  obstacle  put  in  your  way,  as  I  am  ambitious  that  you  shall 
grow  up  a  very  cultivated  woman,  and  be  a  praise  to  your  parents 
when  they  are  old.  As  I  have  no  son,  I  must  make  the  more  of  my 
daughters;  and  if  possible,  I  would  like  them  to  be  as  learned  as  I 
would  have  striven  to  make  Blakely,  if  it  had  pleased  God  to  spare 
him  to  us.  It  will  all  depend  upon  yourselves ;  for  I  will  spare  no  ex- 
pense and  no  labor  to  secure  you  the  best  advantages  the  country  can 
afford.  And  I  feel  the  greatest  confidence  that  I  shall  obtain  my  reward 
in  seeing  all  my  girls  both  pious  and  elegant  women;  fitted  to  shine 
in  society,  and  be  abundantly  useful  and  happy  in  their  day. 

"I  am  making  some  progress  in  my  French,  though  Mons.  Guillet 
keeps  me  drilling  in  the  phrases  and  idioms  of  the  language,  and  does 
not  yet  permit  me  to  read.  It  will  be  a  help  to  me,  if  you  should  be 
able  to  jabber  it  when  we  meet;  and  I  think  all  next  winter,  we  may 
learn  it  together.  It  will  be  such  fun  to  laugh  over  our  own  mistakes; 
and  after  a  while,  we  will  be  able  to  speak  it  as  correctly  as  any  live 
Frenchman  in  New  Orleans.  If,  too,  I  should  conclude  to  employ  a 
governess,  who  speaks  it  well,  that  will  be  a  great  advantage — for  she 
will  come  to  our  help  whenever  we  break  down.  How  do  you  like 
the  idea  of  a  teacher  at  home,  instead  of  going  to  school?  Would  you 
prefer  to  have  a  teacher  all  to  yourself,  and  arrange  your  studies  ac- 
cording to  your  own  notions  ?  or  would  you  rather  go  to  school,  where 
you  can  meet  with  other  girls?  Everything  will  depend,  I  judge,  upon 
the  kind  of  governess  we  get — ^but  you  can  form  some  idea  of  it,  from 
seeing  how  it  works  in  Mr.  Bryce's  family,  over  the  way.  Write  and 
tell  me  what  you  think  about  this,  for  I  would  like  to  please  you. 

"I  wish,  my  dear  daughter,  that  in  answering  my  letter,  you  had 
told  me  about  your  religious  feeling^ — ^it  would  have  given  you  some- 
thing to  write  about;  and  I  would  have  been  so  glad  to  know  exactly 
how  you  feel  on  that  most  important  of  all  subjects.  Can  it  be,  my 
darling,  that  you  never  think  about  that  soul  of  yours,  which  is  des- 
tined to  live  forever  and  ever?  that  you  are  not  sometimes  distressed, 
when  you  remember  that  you  are  totally  unprepared  to  die;  and  yet 


ANTEyBELLUM    PERIOD    IN    NeW    ORLEANS.  233 

at  any  moment  you  may  be  called  away?  Oh,  do  think  about  this 
sometimes ;  and  if  you  ever  feel  anxious  to  be  saved,  do  not  hide  it  all 
up  in  your  heart,  as  if  it  was  something  to  be  ashamed  of.  But  rather 
make  a  friend  of  your  mother  and  of  your  father,  who  desire  nothing 
so  much  as  to  see  you  one  of  God's  children.  I  cannot  tell  you  how 
anxious  I  am  about  your  salvation;  how  earnestly  I  loi^  to  see  you  a 
Christian.  Do  not  put  it  off,  but  give  yourself  over  to  the  Savior,  and 
love  and  serve  him  while  you  are  young.  Kiss  Mother  and  all  the 
sisters  for  me,  and  Grandmother,  too— and  Emily  and  all  the  rest — 
and  believe  me 

"Your  ever-loving  father, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

During  this,  as  during  previous  periods  of  his  life,  he  gave 
himself  to  the  beneficent  function  of  comforting  the  bereaved, 
by  letters  of  condolence.  A  specimen  of  these  is  presented  in 
the  following,  to  Mrs.  Bazile  Lanneau  on  the  death  of  her  son 
Benjamin  Palmer  Lanneau: 

"New   Orleans^  June   16,   1857. 

"My  Dear  Cousin  :  I  have  just  returned  from  a  hurried  visit  to  Caro- 
lina to  deposit  my  family  for  the  summer  beyond  the  range  of  the 
epidemic  fever  of  this  climate.  On  passing  the  depot  at  Greensboro, 
Ga.,  I  had  a  glimpse  of  Cousin  Rebecca,  whom  Randolph  had  advised 
of  my  movements,  and  from  her  I  received  the  first  intelligence  of 
the  recent  heavy  affliction  which  has  fallen  upon  you.  Indeed,  your 
cup  is  full  to  overflowing;  and  I  cannot  forbear  taking  up  the  pen  if 
only  to  utter  words  of  sympathy.  Conscience  has  twinged  me  more 
than  once  for  neglecting  to  write  you  under  the  first  of  your  trials; 
but  up  to  the  last  moment  before  leaving  Carolina  I  cherished  the  hope 
of  running  down  to  Charleston  and  of  mingling  my  tears  with  yours 
at  your  own  fireside.  Upon  reaching  New  Orleans  I  was  at  once 
plunged  many  fathoms  deep  in  a  sea  of  care,  and  became  absorbed  in 
the  duties  of  my  first  and  most  trying  season  in  a  new  field. 

"I  may,  too,  as  well  confess  to  a  peculiar  repugnance  to  letters  of 
condolence,  and  seldom  indite  one  without  a  painful  sense  of  mockery. 
Were  not  Job's  friends  less  'miserable  comforters'  when  they  sat  down 
with  him  in  the  ashes  and  covered  their  heads  seven  days  and  seven 
nights — than  when  their  pathetic  silence  was  broken  by  their  long  and 
garrulous  discourse?  I  may  perhaps  misjudge,  having  never  yet  been 
called  to  experience  that  sorrow  which  cuts  down  through  the  soul  to 
the  very  quick;  but  it  has  always  seemed  to  me  that  in  the  very  first 
access  of  severe  bereavement  before  the  heart  has  had  time  to  recover 
from  the  first  blight  of  its  devastation  all  sympathy  is  sheer  imperti- 
nence and  mockery.  This  intrusion  of  one's  nearest  friend  would  be 
repelled  in  the  impatient  exclamation,  'How  long  wilt  thou  not  depart 
from  me  and  let  me  alone,  until  I  swallow  my  spittle.* 


234       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"It  was  the  possession  of  this  sentiment  which  has  especially  re- 
strained me  till  now.  If  my  pen  could  only  have  wept  silently  with 
you  without  mocking  you  with  words  its  service  should  not  have  been 
withheld"  I  knew  too  well  the  worth  of  your  dear  husband — the  frank 
and  manly  character  which  won  all  hearts  to  him  in  confidence.  I 
knew  too  well  his  worth  to  you :  how  much  he  was  the  head  and  center 
of  your  home,  and  the  worshipful  reverence  with  which  you  loved  him, 
through  these  thirty  years,  and  I  said  if  all  the  world  besides  were 
thrown  in  could  it  fill  that  chasm  made  in  your  heart  by  such  a  death? 
I  felt  not :  and  therefore  I  would  not  break  in  upon  the  sanctity  of  your 
grief.  Nature  will  have  her  pangs:  and  it  was  better  to  leave  you  in 
the  melancholy  luxury  of  solitary  sorrow  while  for  a  time  I  should 
sit  down  outside  the  door  and  pray  the  Comforter  to  sustain  and  cheer 
you. 

"But,  my  sweet  cousin,  it  has  pleased  the  Lord  again  to  bruise  you. 
Before  the  tears  of  your  widowhood  were  dry  the  fresh  tears  of  a 
bereaved  mother  fell  fast  upon  the  pale  body  of  your  second  bom. 
Your  afflictions,  like  your  past  mercies,  come  to  you  in  the  cluster; 
their  bitter  juices  you  must  squeeze  and  drain  to  the  last  drop.  How 
shall  earth  comfort  you  now  unless  it  cast  forth  and  restore  to  you 
its  dead?  I  can  measure  your  loss  thus  far  to  know  that  a  covenant 
God  can  alone  be  your  friend  now.  What  can  your  home  henceforth 
ever  be  but  a  broken  home,  and  what  can  you  carry  to  the  grave  but 
a  stricken  heart  bleeding  every  day  in  fresh  remembrance  of  your  dead  ? 
And  what  can  I  do  for  you  but  weep  with  you  in  the  church-yard — ^the 
only  spot  where  at  last  all  heads  shall  cease  to  throb  and  all  hearts 
cease  to  break! 

"Yet  heavy  as  your  double  bereavement  is,  there  are  surpassing  con- 
solations in  it,  too,  which  you  will  soon,  if  you  do  not  already,  appreciate. 
The  husband  was  spared  through  all  these  years  till  his  dependent 
children  are  grown  into  strength  to  buffet  with  the  world,  and  the 
son  through  short  pains,  is  spared  that  dying  life  which  his  disease 
would  have  insured  to  him.  You  can  look  back  upon  the  long  life  of 
usefulness  in  the  one — ^filled  with  zeal  for  the  Master's  glory  and  with 
labors  for  the  Church  of  Christ  whose  vacant  place  will  long  remind 
the  Church  how  great  the  loss  she,  no  less  than  you,  has  sustained. 
In  the  other  an  early  Christian  hope  has  flowered  at  once  into  the  full 
enjoyment  of  heaven.  You  have  the  comfort  of  knowing  that  neither 
of  them  is  lost  to  you,  but  only  saved  to  you  forever.  Ah,  my  cousin, 
it  is  the  eternal  parting  that  has  a  sting.  If  that  be  spared  us  surely 
we  can  bear  the  interval  of  separation  when  we  shall  join  them  to  part 
no  more. 

"So  far,  our  whole  family  in  all  its  branches  and  generations  is 
safely  gathered — our  parents  and  children  alike,  and  a  blissful  meeting 
awaits  us,  when  they  shall  welcome  us  above.  And  may  we  not  take 
this  in  hopeful  pledge  that  so  it  will  continue  to  be  through  a  long  fu- 


Ante-Bellum  Period  in  New  Orleans.  235 

ture,  our  God  being  the  God  of  our  children  and  of  our  children's 
children  in  all  their  generations?  For  my  own  part  I  shall  never 
grieve  over  any  of  my  blood  whom  God  takes  to  heaven.  I  did  not  shed 
a  tear  for  my  mother.  I  do  not  think  I  shall  for  my  father.  The  one 
reigning  and  comforting  thought  is — that  another  is  safely  gathered  into 
rest.  But  none  of  these  reflections  is  new  to  you  and  I  have  not  de- 
signed to  play  the  comforter.  'There  is  a  friend  that  sticketh  closer 
than  a  brother*  into  whose  ear  I  am  sure  you  have  poured  all  your  sor- 
rows, and  whose  tender  sympathy  sustains  you  in  moments  when  you 
droop.  The  disciples  of  the  Baptist  took  up  his  body  and  buried  it, 
and  'went  and  told  Jesus.*  This  is  what  you  have  done,  and  I  will  not 
come  in  with  my  poor  words  between  you  and  that  friend.  I  wish  you 
could  know  how  much  I  have  always  loved  and  reverenced  you,  my 
dear  cousin,  that  I  have  never  thought  of  you  but  it  has  warmed  my 
heart — how  the  sight  of  your  patient,  cheerful  face  in  the  midst  of 
family  cares  and  toils  has  often  given  me  courage  to  go  out  and  be  a 
true  man  in  life.  If  you  knew  all  this  you  would  know  how  truly  I 
have  felt  your  grief  and  how  gladly  I  would  lighten  your  burdens. 
"God  bless  you  and  yours  forever  more. 

"Yours  affectionately, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

The  Old  School  Assembly  of  i860  elected  Dr.  Palmer  to 
the  chair  of  Pastoral  Theology  and  Sacred  Rhetoric  in  Prince- 
ton Theological  Seminary,  giving  him  two  hundred  and  thirty- 
seven  votes,  all  the  votes  cast.  This  was  no  small  compliment 
and  was  probably  received  as  such.  But  there  is  no  evidence 
that  he  gave  this  call  any  particular  consideration.  His  mind 
had  been  long  made  up  that  his  place  was  in  the  pastorate. 


CHAPTER  XII. 

HIS  COURSE  DURING  THE  WAR. 

(1861-1865.) 

Hard  for  Southern  Clergymen  to  Steer  Clear  of  Political  Preach- 
ing IN  1861. — Some  Political  Preaching  on  Dr.  Palmer's  Part. — 
The  Political  Work  of  the  Old  School  Assembly  of  1861. — 
The  Consequent  Action  of  the  Presbytery  of  New  Orleans^ 
Looking  to  the  Establishment  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in 
THE  Confederate  States  of  America. — ^In  the  Augusta  Assem- 
bly, December,  1861. — His  Services  to  the  First  Presbyterian 
Church  of  New  Orleans  till  April,  1862. — "The  Art  of  Con- 
versation/'— Stumping  the  State  of  Mississippi,  April  and  May, 
1862. — The  Fall  of  New  Orleans  into  the  Hands  of  General 
B.  F.  Butler  Necessitates  Dr.  Palmer's  making  His  Home  Else- 
where.— ^At  Chattanooga,  August,  1862. — ^At  Columbia  during 
Autumn  of  1862  and  Winter  Following. — Eulogy  on  Thorn- 
well. — Eulogy  of  General  Gregg. — Before  the  Legislature  of 
G9)RGiA. — Bread  Cast  upon  the  Waters  Years  before  Returned. 
— In  the  General  Assembly  of  1863. — ^With  the  Army  of  Ten- 
nessee.— Returns  Home  to  Accompany  His  Oldest  Daughter 
down  into  the  Valley  of  the  Shadow  as  far  as  the  Living  may 
Go. — In  Columbia,  Professor  of  Theology,  and  the  Supply  of 
His  Old  Church. — ^Address  to  General  Wade  Hampton,  "Sol- 
diers OF  THE  Legion  and  Gentlemen  of  the  Army." — Opposed  to 
the  Union  of  His  Church  and  the  Synod  of  the  South. — In 
THE  Assembly  of  1864. — Pastoral  Letter  to  His  FLock  in  New 
Orleans. — Letter  to  Miss  Anna  Jennings. —  Letter  to  Mrs.  R. — 
An  Occasion  when  He  Preached  with  Difficulty. — His  Flight 
FROM  Columbia  and  Return. — Experiences  of  His  Family  during 
the  Burning  and  Sack  of  Columbia. — Certain  Subordinate  Ser- 
vices to  the  Church  during  these  Years. 

I  T^HE  officijJ  discussion  of  political  questions  by  the  clergy 
/  1  had  had  relatively  little  place  in  the  South  prior  to  the 
^  outbreak  of  the  war  between  the  sections.  It  had  developed 
no  Beechers,  no  Parkers,  and  no  Cheevers,  to  disseminate 
political  fads  through  the  medium  of  their  sacred  offce.  But 
when,  in  i860,  the  Republic  seemed  on  the  eve  of  destruction, 
many  clergymen,  hitherto  conservative,  deviated  from  their 
previous  courses,  feeling  it  incumbent  on  them  to  express  their 
views  on  the  momentous  crisis.    The  Old  School  Presbyterian 


His  Course  During  the  War.  237 

Church  had  been  marked  for  its  studious  avoidance  of  med- 
dling with  the  subject  of  slavery,  but  it  now  became  prominent 
for  the  able  political  discussions  conducted  by  its  clergy.  It  has 
before  appeared  that  Dr.  Palmer,  on  Thanksgiving  Day,  i860, 
swayed  New  Orleans,  as  had  Demosthenes  of  old  the  men  of 
Athens.  There  soon  appeared  from  the  pen  of  Dr.  J.  H. 
Thomwell,  of  South  Carolina,  what  seemed  to  be  an  irresisti- 
ble vindication  of  the  position  which  had  been  taken  by  the 
South.  Dr.  Hodge,  of  Princeton,  came  out  with  "a  fair  and 
candid"  exposition  of  the  Northern  side  of  the  question.  Then 
came  another  effort  from  the  trenchant  and  versatile  pen  of 
Dr.  Robert  J.  Breckenridge. 

Under  the  circumstances  we  should  not  be  surprised  to  find 
Dr.  Palmer  again  dividing  his  efforts  between  the  preaching 
of  the  simple  Gospel  and  the  endeavor  to  solve  the  problems 
before  his  country.    This  is  in  fact,  what  he  did. 

Thus  we  find  him.  Sabbath  morning.  May  26,  1861,  deliv- 
ering a  discourse  from  his  own  pulpit,  to  the  Crescent  Sifles. 
His  text  was  Psalm  144:  i.i  "Blessed  be  the  Lord,  my  strength 
which  teacheth  my  hands  to  war  and  my  fingers  to  fight."  He 
began  with  ^  the  story  of  an  ancient  castle  in  which  horses 
and  riders  fully  accoutred  stood  rooted  to  the  ground  under 
the  spell  of  an  enchantment,  till  the  shrill  blast  of  a  trumpet 
disenchanted  them,  when  silence  was  suddenly  changed  to 
the  pawing  of  war  steeds  and  the  clangor  of  arms,  as  horsemen 
sprang  to  the  saddle.  In  this  he  found  a  parable  of  the  past 
and  present  condition  of  the  country,  and  passed  to  the  scene 
immediately  before  him — ^the  presence,  within  the  house  of 
God,  of  the  flower  and  pride  of  the  city  in  military  garb, 
their  banners  leaning  against  the  consecrated  walls,  to  hear 
the  last  words  of  Christian  counsel  and  receive  the  last  ben- 
ediction of  religion  ere  they  should  go  forth  to  the  dread 
encounter.  Turning  to  his  text,  he  vindicated  from  Scripture 
and  reason  the  propriety  of  war  in  certain  circumstances; 
brought  out,  in  the  second  place,  the  principle,  that  sacrifice 
and  toil  are  the  conditions  upon  which  all  earthly  blessings 
are  obtained  and  held,  and  in  the  third  place,'  the  position  that 
in  the  comprehensive  government  of  Jehovah  nations  have 
their  assigned  mission,  which  they  must  execute  through  the 
conflicts  which  Providence  may  ordain  for  them. 

*The  sermon  is  found,  in  full,  in  the  Sunday  Delta,  June  2,  1861. 


;1 


t 


238       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Endeavoring  to  discriminate  between  wars  that  are  rela- 
tively criminal  and  those  that  are  comparatively  blameless, 
he  plead  that  this  war,  was  "with  us,  one  of  simple  defence," 
that  our  foes  were  convicted  of  g^ilt  before  God,  "by  the  ma- 
lignant and  vindictive  spirit"  which  they  breathed  in  all  their 
utterances  against  us,  that  we  were  defending  our  national 
trust,  and  great  American  principle  of  self-government,  and 
that  the  issue  was  "an  issue  between  religion  and  atheism/*  the 
North  was  crying  for  "a  new  Constitution,  a  new  Bible,  and  k 
new  God." 

In  conclusion,  he  urged  the  soldiers  before  him  to  carry 
along  with  them  a  religious  conviction  of  the  righteousness 
of  their  cause,  and  to  cherish  in  their  hearts  a  sense  of  de- 
pendence on  Almighty  God.  Finally,  he  exhorted  his  hearers 
to  give  their  hearts  to  Christ  and  be  prepared  for  the  hour 
of  death  and  entrance  into  the  world  of  bliss. 

About  the  same  time  Dr.  Palmer  delivered  a  very  eloquent 
and  patriotic  exhortation  to  the  Washington  Artillery,  one  of 
the  leading  military  organizations  of  New  Orleans.  He  ad- 
dressed these  troops  just  prior  to  their  marching  to  the  rail- 
way station  on  their  departure  for  the  scene  of  war  in  Virginia. 
He  spoke  from  the  steps  of  the  beautiful  and  classic  portico 
of  the  City  Hall.  "Besides  the  military,  there  were  not  less 
than  five  thousand  citizens  present  on  this  interesting  occa- 
sion."   The  speaker  said: 

"Gentlemen  of  the  Washington  Artillery:  At  the  sound  of  the 
bugle  you  are  here,  within  one  short  hour  to  bid  adieu  to  cherished 
homes,  and  soon  to  encounter  the  perils  of  battle  on  a  distant  field. 
It  is  fitting  that  here,  in  the  heart  of  this  great  city — ^here,  beneath  the 
shadow  of  this  Hall,  over  which  floats  the  fl^g  of  Louisiana's  sov- 
ereignty and  independence,  you  should  receive  a  public  and  a  tender 
farewell.  It  is  fitting  that  religion  herself  should  with  gentle  voice 
whisper  her  benediction  upon  your  flag  and  your  cause.  Soldiers, 
history  reads  to  us  of  wars  which  have  been  baptized  as  holy;  but  she 
enters  upon  her  records  none  that  is  holier  than  this  in  which  you 
have  embarked.  It  is  a  war  of  defense  against  wicked  and  cruel  ag- 
gression— a  war  of  civilization  against  a  ruthless  barbarism  which 
would  dishonor  the  dark  ages-^a  war  of  religion  against  a  blind  and 
bloody  fanaticism.  It  is  a  war  for  your  homes  and  your  firesides — 
for  your  wives  and  children — for  the  land  which  the  Lord  has  given 
us  for  a  heritage.  It  is  a  war  for  the  maintenance  of  the  broadest 
principle  for  which  a  free  people  can  contend — ^the  right  of  self-g:ov- 
ernment.     Eighty-five  years  ago  our  fathers  fought  in  defence  of  the 


His  Course  During  the  War.  239 

chartered  rights  of  Englishmen,  that  taxation  and  representation  are 
correlative.  We,  their  sons,  contend  to-day  for  the  great  American 
principle  that  all  just  government  derives  its  powers  from  the  will  of 
the  governed.  It  is  the  comer  stone  of  the  great  temple  which,  on  this 
continent,  has  been  reared  to  civil  freedom;  and  its  denial  leads,  as 
the  events  of  the  past  two  months  have  clearly  shown,  to  despotism, 
the  most  absolute  and  intolerable — a  despotism  more  grinding  than  that 
of  the  Turk  or  Russian,  because  it  is  the  despotism  of  the  mob,  unregu- 
lated by  principle  or  precedent,  drifting  at  the  will  of  an  unscrupulous 
and  irresponsible  majority.  The  alternative  which  the  North  has  laid 
before  her  people  is  the  subjugation  of  the  South,  or  what  they  are 
pleased  to  call  absolute  anarchy.  The  alternative  before  us  is  the  in- 
dependence of  the  South  or  a  despotism  which  will  put  its  iron  heel 
upon  all  that  the  human  heart  can  hold  dear.  This  mighty  issue  is  to 
be  submitted  to  the  ordeal  of  battle,  with  the  nations  of  the  earth  as 
spectators,  and  with  the  God  of  heaven  as  umpire.  The  theater  ap- 
pointed for  the  struggle  is  the  soil  of  Virginia,  beneath  the  shadow 
of  her  own  AUeghanies.  Comprehending  the  import  of  this  great  con- 
troversy from  the  first,  Virginia  sought  to  stand  between  the  combat- 
ants, and  pleaded  for  such  an  adjustment  as  both  the  civilization  and 
religion  of  the  age  demanded.  When  this  became  hopeless,  obeying  the 
instinct  of  that  nature  which  has  ever  made  her  the  Mother  of  states- 
men and  of  States,  she  has  opened  her  broad  bosom  to  the  blows  of 
a  tyrant's  hand.  Upon  such  a  theater,  with  such  an  issue  pending  before 
such  a  tribunal,  we  have  no  doubt  of  the  part  which  will  be  assigned 
you  to  play;  and  when  we  hear  the  thunders  of  your  cannon  echoing 
from  the  mountain  passes  of  Virginia  will  understand  that  you  mean, 
in  the  language  of  Cromwell  at  the  Castle  of  Drogheda,  *to  cut  this 
war  to  the  heart.* 

"It  only  remains,  soldiers,  to  invoke  the  blessing  of  Almighty  God 
upon  your  honored  flag.  It  waves  in  brave  hands  over  the  gallant 
defenders  of  a  holy  cause.  It  will  be  found  in  the  thickest  of  the 
fight,  and  the  principles  which  it  represents  you  will  defend  to  'the 
last  of  your  breath  and  of  your  blood.*  May  victory  perch  upon  its 
staff  in  the  hour  of  battle, — ^and  peace — an  honorable  peace — be  wrapped 
within  its  folds  when  you  shall  return.  It  is  little  to  say  to  you  that 
you  will  be  remembered.  And  should  the  frequent  fate  of  the  soldier 
befall  you  in  a  soldier*s  death,  you  shall  find  your  graves  in  thousands 
of  hearts  and  the  pen  of  history  shall  write  the  story  of  your  martyr- 
dom. Soldiers,  farewell !  and  may  the  Lord  of  Hosts  be  around  about 
you  as  a  wall  of  fire,  and  shield  your  head  in  the  day  of  battle!*** 

The  preaching  of  political  sermons  and  the  discussion  in 
religious  papers  of  political  questions,  by  Old  School  divines, 
was  ominous.    Some  of  these  divines  never  so  lost  their  heads 

•  Copied  from  the  Daily  Delta,  New  Orleans,  May  29,  1861. 


240       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

as  to  precipitate  their  ecclesiastical  courts  into  rendering  polit- 
ical decisions.    Their  indulgence  in  such  discussions,  however, 
was  indicative  of  such  a  degree  of  excitement  amongst  the 
clergy  at  large  that  it  was  not  a  wholly  unexpected  thing  that 
church  courts,  even  certain  Old  School  Presbyterian  Qiurch 
/courts,  should  begin  the  making  of  political  decisions.     But 
/  the  Old  School  Assembly  of  1861,  under  the  excitement  ind- 
/  dent  to  the  capture  of  Fort  Sumter,  and  under  popular  pres- 
^-^ure  brought  to  bear  from  without  on  the  body,  went  to  an  un- 
expected extreme,  in  passing  the  Spring  Resolutions;  which, 
according  to  Dr.  Qiarles  Hodge,  virtually  declared  that  the 
allegiance  of  the  whole  Presbyterian  Church,  North,  South, 
East  and  West,  "is  due  to  the  United  States,  anything  in  the 
Constitution,  ordinances  or  laws  of  the  several  States  to  the 
-^  contrary  notwithstanding,"  and  not  only  decides  "the  political 
question  referred  to,  but  makes  that  decision  a  term  of  mem- 
bership in  our  Church,"  thus  usurping  the  "prerogatives  of 
the  Divine  Master." 

The  passage  of  these  resolutions  involved  a  subordination 
of  Church  to  State,  a  violation  of  the  Churdi's  Constitution 
as  well  as  a  usurpation  of  the  crown  rights  of  the  Redeemer; 
and  a  cruel  trampling  upon  the  God-given  rights  of  their 
brethren  throughout  the  whole  Southland.  Southern  Pres- 
byteries began,  on  the  very  heels  of  the  Assembly's  adjourn- 
ment, the  endeavor  to  adjust  themselves  properly  to  the  As- 
sembly which  had  passed  these  resolutions. 

The  Presbytery  of  New  Orleans  was  not  quick  to  meet. 
It  did  convene,  however,  in  pro  re  nata  meetings,  July  9,  1861, 
"to  receive  any  newly  organized  church,  and  to  consider 
the  course  pursued  by  the  late  General  Assembly  with  matters 
pertaining  thereto;  and  also  to  take  whatever  action  might 
be  judged  necessary  in  the  premises."  Preliminary  business 
having  been  done,  the  Presbytery  took  measures  which  are 
recorded  as  follows : 

"The  paper  adopted  by  the  General  Assembly,  in  view  of  the  state 
of  the  country,  was  then  taken  up  for  consideration.    It  is  as  follows: 

"'Gratefully  acknowledging  the  distinguished  bounty  and  care  of 
Almighty  God  toward  this  favored  land,  and  recognizing  our  obligation 
to  submit  to  every  ordinance  of  man  for  the  Lord's  sake,  this  General 
Assembly  adopts  the  following  resolutions: 

"'Resolved,  1.  That  in  view  of  the  present  agitated  and  unhappy 
condition  of  our  country,  the  first  day  of  July  next  is  set  apart  as  a  day 


His  Course  During  the  War.  241 

of  ^layer  throughout  our  bounds;  and  that  on  this  day  ministers  and 
people  be  called  on  humbly  to  confess  and  bewail  our  national  sins; 
to  offer  our  thanks  to  the  Father  of  lights  for  his  abundant  and  unde- 
served goodness  toward  us  as  a  nation ;  to  seek  his  guidance  and  bless- 
ing upon  our  rulers  and  their  counsels,  as  well  as  on  the  Congress 
of  the  United  States  about  to  assemble ;  and  to  implore  him,  in  the  name 
of  Jesus  Christ,  the  great  High  Priest  of  the  Christian  profession,  to 
turn  away  his  anger  from  us,  and  speedily  restore  to  us  the  blessings 
of  an  honorable  peace. 

"  'Resolved,  2.  That  this  General  Assembly,  in  the  spirit  of  Christian 
patriotism  which  the  Scriptures  enjoin,  and  which  has  always  char- 
acterized this  Church,  do  hereby  acknowledge  and  declare  our  obliga- 
tion to  promote  and  perpetuate,  so  far  as  in  us  lies,  the  integrity  of 
these  United  States,  to  strengthen,  uphold,  and  encourage  the  Federal 
Government  in  the  exercise  of  all  its  functions  under  our  noble  Con- 
stitution; and  to  this  Constitution,  in  all  its  provisions,  requirements, 
and  principles,  we  profess  our  unabated  loyalty.  And  to  avoid  all  mis- 
conceptions, the  Assembly  declares  that  by  the  terms  the  ^Federal 
Government,'  as  here  used,  is  not  meant  any  particular  administration, 
or  the  peculiar  opinions  of  any  particular  party,  but  that  secular  ad- 
ministration which,  being  at  any  time  appointed  and  inaugurated  ac- 
cording to  the  forms  prescribed  in  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States, 
is  the  visible  representative  of  our  national  existence.* " " 

"At  the  request  of  the  Presbytery  the  Commissioners  presented  a 
statement  of  the  course  pursued  by  the  Assembly  in  connection  with  the 
passage  of  these  resolutions. 

"Presbytery  then  went  into  interlocutory  meeting.  The  roll  was 
called,  and  each  member  gave  his  opinion  of  the  action  of  the  Assembly 
and  of  the  consequent  position  and  duty  of  the  Presbytery. 

"Presbytery  then  resumed  its  regular  session,  and  a  committee  con- 
sisting of  Messrs.  Palmer,  Mclnnis,  Henderson,  Stringer,  and  Maybin, 
was  appointed  to  draft  a  minute  expressing  the  views  of  the  Presby- 
tery. 

"Presbytery  then  adjourned  till  8  p.m.  to-morrow. 

"Closed  with  prayer,  Wednesday  evening." 

"Presbytery  met  according  to  adjournment,  opened  with  prayer. 
Present,  Ministers,  B.  M.  Palmer,  S.  Woodbridge,  H.  M.  Smith,  G.  L. 
Moore,  T.  R.  Markham,  J.  H  Hollander,  B  Wayne,  A.  Mclnnis,  U.  T. 
Chamberlain,  J.  C.  Graham,  A.  S.  Johnson ;  Elders,  J.  A.  Maybin,  R.  C. 
Latting,  F.  Stringer,  J.  D.  Henderson,  E.  Dillon,  H.  P.  Bartlett. 

"The  minutes  of  yesterday  were  read  and  approved. 

"The  committee  presented  the  following  report  which  was  amended 
and  adopted  and  is  as  amended,  as  follows: 

"The  committee  appointed  to  draft  a  minute  embodying  the  views 
of  this  Presbytery  touching  the  action  of  the  late  General  Assembly, 

*  Minutes  of  the  General  Assembly,  O.  S.,  1861,  pp.  329,  330. 
16 


242       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

which  held  its  session  in  the  city  of  Philadelphia  in  the  month  of  May 
last,  beg  leave  to  submit  the  following  paper: 

"The  second  of  the  resolutions  adopted  by  the  said  Assembly  aims 
to  bind  the  whole  Presbyterian  Church  by  the  authority  of  its  high 
ecclesiastical  court,  to  promote  and  perpetuate,  as  far  as  in  them  lies, 
'the  integrity  of  these  United  States,  and  to  strengthen,  uphold  and 
encourage  the  Federal  Government  in  the  exercise  of  all  its  functions/ 
This  Church  is  required  to  profess  its  unabated  loyalty  to  that  central 
administration,  which  being  at  any  time  appointed  and  inaugurated 
according  to  the  terms  prescribed  in  the  Constitution  of  the  United 
States,  is  the  visible  representation  of  our  national  existence.  This 
extraordinary  action  was  taken  in  opposition  to  the  notorious  fact, 
that  eleven  sovereign  States  had  withdrawn  from  the  Federal  Union 
and  had  established  a  government  of  their  own;  and  in  opposition  to 
the  fact  that  a  large  portion  of  the  Church-HU>nsisting  of  t^n  synods, 
forty-five  presbyteries,  706  ministers,  1089  churches  and  75,000  com- 
municants— ^was  embraced  within  these  seceded  States;  and  obliged 
therefore  by  their  own  views  of  patriotism,  and  the  word  of  God  to 
support  a  government  entirely  distinct  from  that  so  arbitrarily  patron- 
ized by  the  Assembly. 

"The  Presbytery  can  do  no  less  than,  solemnly  and  in  the  fear  of 
God,  protest  against  this  action  as  beii^  unconstitutional  and  Erastian 
to  the  last  degree,  since,  in  undertaking  to  determine  questions  of  po- 
litical allegiance,  it  transcends  all  the  powers  granted  by  the  Scriptures 
to  the  Church  of  Christ  and  the  duties  which  are  distinctly  enumerated 
in  our  form  of  government;  to  protest  against  it  also  as  unchristian 
and  unfair,  since  advantage  was  taken  of  the  absence  of  the  great  body 
of  the  Southern  delegates,  to  consummate  an  act  on  which  the  voice 
of  the  whole  Church  consequently  was  not  heard;  to  protest  against 
it  as  tyrannical  and  oppressive,  since  it  prescribes  a  political  test  as  a 
term  of  ecclesiastical  connection,  and  virtually  exscinds  those  who  can- 
not submit  to  its  arbitrary  and  unlawful  imposition ;  and  finally  to  pro- 
test against  it  as  wicked,  since  it  enjoins  that  which  would  be  treason 
against  the  government  under  which  we  live,  and  which  as  citizens  we 
cordially  and  conscientiously  support  and  cherish. 

"Since  this  action  places  the  Southern  portion  of  the  Church  in 
a  false  position  before  the  Church  and  the  world,  there  should  be  no 
delay  in  recording  the  protest,  and  in  dissolving,  without. heat  and  pas- 
sion, but  with  full  deliberation,  and  in  the  fear  of  God,  the  connection 
hitherto  maintained  with  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Presbyterian 
Church  in  the  United  States. 

"This  virtual  excision  of  the  Southern  Church  by  the  General  As- 
sembly, when  it  shall  be  accepted  and  recognized  by  the  different  pres- 
byteries, leaves  us  temporarily  in  a  state  of  complete  disintegration, 
and  the  question  is  at  once  forced  upon  our  attention,  What  measure 
shall  be  adopted  to  bring  these  isolated  presbyteries  into  ecclesiastical 


His  Course  During  the  War.  243 

union?  For  this  purpose  two  plans  have  been  proposed  in  the  public 
prints.  The  first  calls  for  a  general  convention  of  delegates  from  all 
the  presbyteries,  to  consider  the  duty  of  the  Church  in  the  premises, 
and  with  power  to  withdraw  in  that  united  form  from  the  Assembly. 
The  second  throws  this  question  directly  upon  the  separate  presbyteries, 
who  are  invited  to  make  provision  for  an  early  General  Assembly  of 
their  own.  This  latter  method  commends  itself  to  our  judgment  as 
immeasurably  the  safer  and  wiser  of  the  two,  and  for  the  following 
reasons: 

1.  A  convention  is  a  body  not  known  to  our  constitution.  It  is  ir- 
responsible for  its  action  and  may,  therefore,  be  dangerous  as  a  prece- 
dent 

2.  It  is  unnecessary,  as  by  the  system  of  courts  in  th^  Presbyterian 
Church  full  provision  is  made  for  the  mutual  consultation  and  for 
expressing  the  visible  unity  of  the  Church. 

3.  There  is  no  party  invested  with'  legal  authority  for  calling  a  con- 
vention, and  already  so  many  different  propositions  have  been  made, 
as  to  the  time  and  place  for  holding  the  same,  that  the  whole  scheme  is 
likely  to  miscarry  for  want  of  concert. 

4.  As  the  sitting  of  this  convention  is  designed  to  precede  the  regular 
meetings  of  the  Presbyteries  sufficient  time  will  not  be  afforded  for 
many  of  our  remote  and  scattered  presbyteries  to  be  represented  therein. 

5.  The  action  of  a  convention  would  not  be  final  but  must  be  referred 
for  ratification  to  the  presbyteries.  Whereas  the  scheme  for  an  assem- 
bly would  be  complete  in  itself. 

We  submit  therefore  the  following  plan  to  our  sister  presbyteries 
for  their  consideration: 

"That  each  presb3rtery  for  itself  and  by  its  own  sovereign  power, 
proceed  either  at  a  meeting  expressly  called,  or  at  its  fall  session,  to 
dissolve  its  connection  with  the  General  Assembly  in  the  United  States ; 
and  that  they  appoint  commissioners  to  the  General  Assembly  of  the 
Confederate  States  of  America,  to  sit  in  the  city  of  Augusta,  Ga., 
on  the  4th  day  of  'December,  a.d.,  1861,  or  at  some  other  place  and  time 
as  they  shall  prefer,  that  they  unite  with  us  in  requesting  Rev.  Drs. 
J.  H.  Gray  and  J.  N.  Waddell  of  the  Presbytery  of  Memphis,  residing 
at  La  Grange,  Tenn.,  to  act  as  a  committee,  to  whom  the  action  of  each 
presb3rtery  shall  be  reported  by  the  stated  clerk  of  the  same  as  early, 
if  possible,  as  the  15th  of  October,  and  that  this  committee  of  commis- 
sioners shall  be  empowered  to  call  a  General  Assembly  at  such  place 
and  at  such  time,  as  shall  receive  a  plurality  of  votes  by  the  presb3rter- 
ies;  said  assembly  to  be  opened  with  a  sermon  by  the  last  moderator 
present,  of  the  Old  General  Assembly,  who  shall  preside  until  a  new 
moderator  shall  have  been  chosen.  ^— *^ 

"In  conformity  with  these  views  be  it  therefore  by  this  Presbytery:        I 

"Resolved,  That  in  view  of  the  unconstitutional,  Erastian,  tyrannical 
and  virtually  exscinding  act  of  the  late  General  Assembly  sitting  at 


^  244       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

/        Philadelphia  in  May  last,  we  do  hereby  with  a  solemn  protest  against 
J        this  act,  declare  in  the  fear  of  God,  our  connection  with  the  General 
'^        Assembly  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  the  United  States  to  be  dis- 
,  solved. 

"Resolved,  That  a  copy  of  this  action  be  sent  to  all  the  presbjrteries 
.  within  the  Gjnfederate  States,  requesting  them,  if  they  concur  with 
/  us,  that  they  appoint  commissioners  authorized  to  organize  a  General 
/    Assembly,  to  commence  its  sessions  on  the  4th  day  of  December  next, 
/     at  II  A.M.  in  the  First  Presb3rterian  Church,  in  the  city  of  Augusta,  Ga., 
^as  a  place  central,  retired,  etc.;  forwarding  due  notice  of  their  action 
to  the  Committee  of  Commissioners  already  designated,  and  request- 
ing them  in  due  form  to  give  notice  of  the  meeting  of  the  Assembly. 
"Resolved,  That  we  approve  the  action  taken  by  Dr.  Wilson  and  the 
brethren  at  Columbia,  to  carry  on,  ad  interim,  our  Foreign  Missionary 
operations,  and  also  the   course   of  the   Southwestern   Committee   of 
Domestic  Missions  in  assuming,  ad  interim,  the  independent  manage- 
ment of  that   great   interest   within   our   bounds,   and   we   direct  the 
churches  under  our  care  to  take  up  and  remit  their  collections  for  these 
objects  to  these  committees  respectively. 

"Resolved,  That  we  approve  the  course  of  our  commissioners  to  the 
late  General  Assembly,  believing  that  they  did  all  that  was  possible 
in  a  body  which  was  in  no  proper  sense  a  free  Assembly. 

"Signed — B.  M.  Palmer,  R.  Mclnnis,  J.  J.  Henderson,  J.  A.  Maybin, 
F.  Stringer,  Com. 

"The  ayes  and  noes  were  called  for  on  the  adoption  of  this  paper, 
the  absent  members  to  have  the  privilege  of  recording  their  votes." 

The  vote,  so  far  as  recorded,  was  all  one  way. 

From  the  minutes  of  the  regular  fall  meeting  of  the  Pres- 
bytery of  New  Orleans,  October,  1861,  it  appears  that,  the 
body  appointed  Revs.  B.  M.  Palmer  and  R.  Mclnnis  as  prin- 
cipal commissioners,  Rev.  T.  R.  Markham  and  N.  P.  Cham- 
berlain as  alternates ;  and  elders  J.  A.  Maybin  and  P.  Stringer 
as  principal  commissioners.  W.  C.  Black  and  David  Hadden 
as  alternates,  "to  represent  it  in  the  General  Assembly  of  the 
Presbyterian  Church  in  the  Confederate  States,  to  be  held  at 
Augusta,  Ga.,  Dec.  4,  1861." 

It  seems  that  the  action  of  the  Presbytery  of  July  9th  had 
been  misunderstood  as  betraying  a  disregard  for  the  visible 
unity  of  the  Church,  prejudicing  the  claims  had  upon  the  com- 
mon property  of  the  whole  Church  when  it  was  one  body,  and 
as  annihilating  the  authority  of  the  Standards  of  faith  and 
order. 

At  the  fall  meeting  of  the   Presbytery,   1861,   Dr.   B.   M. 


His  Course  During  the  War.  245 

Palmer  submitted  a  paper  which,  after  amendment,  was  unani- 
mously adopted.    This  "Declaratory  Act"  was  as  follows: 

"Whereas,  the  Presbytery  of  New  Orleans,  at  a  pro  re  nata  meeting 
held  in  the  city  of  New  Orleans,  July  9,  1861,  did  by  resolution  and  for 
reasons  stated  therein,  cancel  its  connection  with  the  General  Assembly 
of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  the  United  States  of  America;  and 
whereas  the  simple  abnegation  of  the  authority  of  said  Assembly 
unaccompanied  with  explanation  may  possibly  be  misconstrued  by 
some  as  manifesting  a  disregard  for  the  visible  unity  of  the  Church, 
or  as  prejudicing  the  claims  we  have  upon  the  common  property  of  the 
whole  Church  when  it  was  one  body,  or  as  vacating  the  authority  of  the 
Standards  of  faith  and  order  hitherto  recognized,  therefore: 

"This  Presbytery,  while  not  admitting  the  justice  of  any  of  these 
inferences,  yet  to  satisfy  the  scruples  of  others,  and  in  the  exercise  of 
superabundant  caution  makes  the  following  Declaration  upon  these 
points,  to  Tvit: 

"i.  In  withdrawing  from  the  jurisdiction  of  the  General  Assembly 
aforesaid,  it  was  not  the  desire  or  purpose  of  this  Presbytery  to  sep- 
arate itself  from  sister  presbyteries  within  the  limits  of  the  Confed- 
erate States,  except  temporarily,  and  only  in  form,  and  solely  with  the 
view  of  reintegrating  in  a  Southern  Assembly  which  should  represent 
the  unity  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  within  our  national  limits,  evi- 
dence of  which  is  furnished  in  the  invitation  extended  to  all  the  pres- 
byteries which  are  likeminded,  to  meet  on  the  4th  day  of  December 
in  the  city  of  Augusta,  Ga.,  for  the  purpose  of  organizing  such  South- 
em  General  Assembly. 

"2.  The  Presbytery  did  not  in  the  passage  of  said  resolution,  nor 
does  it  now  regard  its  withdrawal  from  the  aforesaid  Assembly  as 
affecting  in  the  least  degree  its  synodical  relations.  On  the  contrary, 
since  the  Assembly  grows  up  through  the  expansion  of  the  Church 
by  the  force  of  her  own  inherent  life  beyond  the  bounds  of  a  single 
S3mod,  the  only  effect  of  such  withdrawal  is  to  cut  the  connection  be- 
tween these  presbyteries  of  which  the  Assembly  is  the  ecclesiastical 
bond.  It  cannot  dissolve  the  whole  interior  organization  of  the  Church 
as  held  together  by  presbyteries  and  synods.  In  token  of  this  the 
Stated  Clerk  is  hereby  directed  to  send  up  as, usual  the  record  of  this 
Presb3rtery,  for  review  to  the  Synod  of  Mississippi,  at  its  approaching 
meeting;  and  also  to  lay  before  that  body  immediately  on  its  organiza- 
tion, the  whole  action  of  the  Presbytery,  including  both  the  act  of 
separation,  passed  July  9th,  and  this  Declaratory  Act,  now  passed,  in- 
viting it  as  the  higher  court  to  which  this  is  amenable  to  declare  its 
judgment  upon  these  proceedings  and  to  make  its  own  deliverances 
touching  the  course  of  the  late  General  Assembly  held  in  May  last  in 
the  city  of  Philadelphia. 

"3.  This  Presb3rtery  cannot  for  a  moment  conclude  that  its  with- 
drawal from  the  General  Assembly  aforesaid  involved  in  any  degree 


246       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

a  renunciation  of  the  venerable  Standards  of  the  Presbyterian  Church, 
or  that  it  has  been  since  the  act  of  separation  without  a  constitution 
or  a  law.  On  the  contrary  these  Standards  having  been  solemnly  sub- 
scribed by  ministers  and  elders  at  their  ordination,  remain  the  funda- 
mental law  of  the  Church,  and  since  no  alterations  nor  amendments 
can  be  made  in  the  same  except  by  a  direct  vote  of  the  Presbytery, 
much  less  can  their  authority  be  entirely  vacated  without  a  distinct 
and  formal  repudiation.  In  the  stead  of  which  repudiation,  it  is  in 
the  recognition  of  these  Standards  as  giving  the  common  and  public 
law  of  the  Church,  we  did  and  still  do  propose  to  unite  with,  our  sister 
presbyteries  in  constructing  a  General  Assembly  as  the  organ  of  our 
visible  fellowship  and  union." 

Later  in  this  same  month  of  October,  the  Synod  of  Miss- 
issippi met  in  Oakland  College,  Miss.  Dr.  Palmer  was  made 
moderator.  It  was  found  that  its  other  Presbyteries  had  also 
taken  action  "substantially  identical"  with  that  of  New  Orleans 
Presbytery  touching  their  relations  to  the  old  Assembly  and 
to  the  one  to  be  constituted  at  Augusta,  Ga.,  December  4,  prox- 
imo. The  Synod  accordingly  declared  that  all  connection  there- 
tofore subsisting  between  it  and  the  General  Assembly  of  the 
Presbyterian  Church  in  the  United  States  was  dissolved;  that 
a  similar  connection  should  be  formed  with  the  General  Assem- 
bly of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  the  Confederate  States, 
as  soon  as  organized;  and  that  in  token  of  this  their  records 
should  be  sent  up  for  the  inspection  and  review  of  that  body. 
7  Similar  movements  were  going  on  all  through  the  Con- 
federate States.  Palmer  or  no  Palmer,  some  such  movements 
would  have  taken  place.  But  he  seems  to  have  been  largely 
instrumental  in  determining  the  precise  form  which  the  move- 
ments took.  The  action  of  his  Presbytery  of  July  9  and  10, 
to  which  he  gave  form,  was  published  abroad  and  furnished  a 
^pattern  to  the  presbyteries  generally. 

It  has  been  seen  that  his  Presbytery  made  Dr.  Palmer  its 
first  commissioner  to  the  Constituting  Assembly  which  met 
in  Augusta,  Ga.,  December  4,  1861.  That  Assembly  numbered 
not  a  few  men  of  eminence.  Dr.  J.  H.  Thornwell  was  the  man 
of  intellectual  preeminence.  But  Thornwell  was  not  well. 
The  most  eloquent  speaker  in  the  body  was  Dr.  Palmer.  The 
venerable  Dr.  Francis  McFarland  presided  until  a  regular  or- 
ganization could  be  effected.  On  his  motion  Dr.  Palmer  was 
unanimously  chosen  to  preach  the  opening  sermon.  Dr.  Palmer 
felt  the  responsibility  of  the  occasion.    What  was  of  greater 


His  Course  During  the  War.  247 

moment,  he  was  prepared  to  meet  it.  Endowed  with  a  force 
and  splendor  and  enthusiasm  like  Homer's,  a  fiery  and  con- 
vincing logic,  like  Paul's,  the  speaker  commanded  an  eloquence 
like  Edmund  Burke's.  Habitually  an  honest  and  comprehen- 
sive student  and  hence  on  all  occasions  a  well- furnished  preach- 
er, on  great  occasions  he  was  in  possession  of  the  resources 
and  the' mettle  to  respond  to  the  unusual  pressure.  The  pres- 
ent was  a  great  occasion.  He  pronounced  the  following  dis- 
course : 

"Fathers  and  Brethren:  This  Assembly  is  convened  under  circum- 
stances of  unusual  solemnity,  and  any  one  of  us  might  well  shrink 
from  the  responsibility  of  uttering  the  first  words  which  are  to  be 
spoken  here.  I  see  before  me  venerable  men  whom  the  Church  of  God 
has  honored  with  the  highest  mark  of  her  confidence — ^men  venerable 
for  their  wisdom,  no  less  than  for  their  age — ^who  should,  perhaps,  as 
your  organ,  speak  to-day  in  the  hearing  of  the  nation  and  of  the  Church. 
But  a  providence  which  I  have  had  no  hand  in  shaping  seems  to  have 
devolved  upon  me  this  duty  as  delicate  as  it  is  solemn.  It  only  remains 
for  me  to  bespeak  your  sympathy,  and  to  implore  the  divine  blessing 
upon  what  I  may  be  able  to  say  from  the  concluding  words  of  the 
first  chapter  of  Ephesians : 

***And  gave  Him  to  be  Head  over  all  things  to  the  Church;  which 
is  his  body,  the  fulness  of  him  that  filleth  all  in  all.*    Eph.  i :  22,  23. 

"You  have  often  admired  in  the  Epistles  of  Paul  the  vigor  of  his 
inspired  and  sanctified  logic ;  driving,  like  a  wedge,  through  the  compli- 
cations of  the  most  perplexed  reasoning  to  its  very  heart.  Not  less 
wonderful  is  that  intellectual  comprehensiveness,  which,  stretching 
across  the  breadth  of  a  zone,  gathers  up  all  the  indirections  of  his 
theme,  and  lays  them  over  upon  it  in  rapid  and  cumulative  utterances — 
till  language  begins  to  break  beneath  the  weight  of  his  thought ;  and  the 
arguments,  set  on  fire-  with  the^  ardor  of  his  emotion,  reaches  the  goal 
a  perfect  pyramid  of  flame.  The  passage  just  recited  is  a  sufficient  ex- 
ample of  this  rare  combination  of  the  discursive  with  the  severely 
logical  in  the  writings  of  this  great  Apostle;  for  the  grand  thoughts 
it  presents  are  nevertheless  gathered  up  by  the  way,  and  wrought 
into  the  texture  of  his  discourse  by  incidental  allusion.  Having  first 
traced  the  calling  and  salvation  of  these  Kphesian  Christians  to  its 
source  in  the  free  and  gracious  love  of  God,  through  which  they  were 
chosen  in  Christ;  and  having  unfolded  the  method  of  grace,  by  re- 
demption through  his  blood,  he  pauses  that  he  may  lift  them  to  some 
adequate  conception  of  the  privileges  into  which  they  have  been  intro- 
duced. This,  however,  he  attempts  not  through  cold  and  didactic 
exposition,  but  in  the  language  of  prayer,  burning  throughout  with  a 
holy  and  earnest  passion:  'that  the  eyes  of  their  understanding  may 
be  enlightened,  to  know  what  is  the  hope  of  their  calling,  what  the 


248       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

riches  of  the  glory  of  their  inheritance/  and  what  the  almightiness  of 
the  power  by  which  they  have  been  transformed  from  sinners  into 
saints.  Then  as  if  to  give  some  external  measure  of  that  power, 
he  points  them  to  the  resurrection  and  exaltation  of  Christ,  in  which 
their  own  spiritual  renovation  is  implicitly  contained.  Kindling  with 
the  grandeur  of  his  theme  growing  thus  by  the  accumulation  of  wayside 
suggestions,  he  heaps  together  in  rapid  description  these  phrases  bur- 
dened with  the  glory  of  that  Headship  which  belongs  to  this  risen 
Savior,  and  the  honors  of  that  Church  standing  to  him  in  such  august 
relations;  till  even  Paul,  with  his  inspired  logic  all  on  fire,  can  say 
nothing  more  than  that  she  is  'His  body,  the  fulness  of  him  that 
iilleth  all  in  all'  The  power  of  human  speech  is  exhausted  in  this 
double  utterance;  and  silence  lends  its  emphasis  to  the  unspoken 
thoughts  which  no  dialect  beneath  that  of  the  seraphim  may  express. 
Who  of  us,  my  brethren,  has  not  been  stunned  by  this  holy  vehemence 
of  Paul,  as  he  piles  together  his  massive  words;  each  bursting  with  a 
separate  wealth,  and  revealing  the  agony  of  language  in  uttering  the 
deep  things  of  God?  What  resource  have  we,  but  to  halt  at  the  articu- 
lations of  his  text — until,  stored  with  their  digressive  sweets  we  return 
to  follow  the  wheels  of  his  chariot  as  it  bounds  along  the  great  highway 
of  his  discourse?  Such  an  excursus  I  now  propose  to  you:  for  no 
theme  occurs  to  me  piore  suited  to  the  solemnity  of  this  occasion,  than 
the  supreme  dominion  to  which  Christ  is  exalted  as  the  Head  of  the 
Church  and  the  glory  of  the  Church  in  that  relation  as  being  at  once 
his  body  and  his  fulness. 

"The  testimony  of  Scripture  is  given  with  great  largeness  to  this 
Headship  of  Christ.  In  this  immediate  connection,  Paul  affirms  that 
He  is  'set  at  the  Father's  own  right  hand  in  the  heavenly  places,  far 
above  all  principality  and  power,  and  might  and  dominion,  and  every 
name  that  is  named,  not  only  in  this  world,  but  also  in  that  which  is  to 
come;  and  hath  put  all  things  under  his  feet,  and  gave  him  to  be  the 
head  over  all  things/  Eph.  i :  20-23.  Again,  in  Philippians :  'wherefore 
God  also  hath  highly  exalted  him,  and  given  him  a  name  which  is  above 
every  name;  that  at  the  name  of  Jesus  every  knee  should  bow,  of 
things  in  heaven  and  things  in  earth,  and  things  under  the  earth,  and 
that  every  tongue  should  confess  that  Jesus  Christ  is  Lord,  to  the  glory 
of  God  the  Father.'  Phil.  2:9-11.  What  enumeration  can  be  more 
exhaustive,  and  what  description  more  minute  of  the  universality  and 
glory  of  this  dominion?  In  like  manner,  we  read  in  the  prophetic 
record  the  testimony  of  Daniel:  T  saw  in  the  night  visions,  and  be- 
hold, one  like  the  Son  of  man  came  with  the  clouds  of  heaven,  and  came 
to  the  Ancient  of  days,  and  they  brought  him  near  before  him;  and 
there  was  given  him  dominion  and  glory,  and  a  kingdom,  that  all 
people,  nations  and  languages  should  serve  him.  His  dominion  is  an 
everlasting  dominion,  which  shall  not  pass  away,  and  his  kingdom  that 
which  shall  not  be  destroyed.*    Dan.  7 :  13,  14.    The  evangelical  Isaiah, 


His  Course  During  the  War.  249 

too,  lifts  up  the  voice  of  the  ancient  Church:  'unto  us  a  child  is  born, 
unto  us  a  Son  is  given,  and  the  government  shall  be  upon  his  shoulders ; 
and  his  name  shall  be  called  Wonderful,  G>unsellor,  the  Mighty  God, 
the  Everlasting  Father,  the  Prince  of  Peace.  Of  the  increase  of  his 
government  and  peace,  there  shall  be  no  end,  upon  the  throne  of  David 
and  upon  his  kingdom  to  order  it,  and  to  establish  it  with  judgment 
and  with  justice,  from  henceforth  even  forever.'  Isa.  9:6,  7.  Our 
Lord  himself  asserts  his  claim  of  universal  empire  and  founds  upon  it 
the  great  commission  of  the  Church:  'AH  power  is  given  unto  me  in 
heaven  and  upon  earth — go  ye,  therefore,  and  teach  all  nations.'  Matt 
28 :  18,  19.  Finally,  the  lonely  Seer  of  *  Patmos  turns  his  telescopic 
gaze  into  the  heavens,  and  reveals  the  Grand  Assembly  in  their  solemn 
worship  around  the  throne,  'and  the  number  of  them  was  ten  thousand 
times  ten  thousand,  and  thousands  of  thousands;  and  every  creature 
which  is  in  heaven,  and  on  the  earth,  and  under  the  earth,  and  such  as 
are  in  the  sea,  and  all  that  are  in  them,  heard  I  saying.  Blessing,  and 
honor,  and  glory,  and  power,  be  unto  him  that  sitteth  upon  the  throne, 
and  unto  the  Lamb  forever  and  ever.'  Rev.  5:11,  13.  Such  is  the  testi- 
mony of  prophecy,  both  as  it  begins,  and  as  it  closes  the  sacred  canon. 

"Observe,  however,  of  whom  all  this  is  affirmed.  It  is  not  alone  of  the 
Eternal  Word  which  dwelt  in  Christ;  nor  yet  alone  of  the  man  Jesus, 
in  whom  that  Word  was  made  flesh — ^but  of  the  Christ,  in  whom  these 
two  natures  meet  and  are  indissolubly  united.  So  that  we  are  compelled 
to  look  upon  both  the  terms  of  His  complex  person  before  we  can  ap- 
prehend the  nature  and  the  greatness  of  this  supremacy.  We  shall 
discover  reasons  in  both  for  the  sublime  agency  assigned  to  him  as 
'  'the  whole  creation's  Head.'  Looking,  then,  upon  the  divine  side,  it  is 
obvious, 

"i.  That  all  the  perfections  of  God  are  indispensable  to  the  fulfil' 
ment  of  this  amazing  trust.  Recurring  to  the  passages  already  quoted, 
this  headship  clearly  includes  universal  conservation  and  rule.  The 
whole  administration  of  Providence  and  law  over  matter  and  over  mind 
is  delegated  to  this  Head;  who  cannot  therefore,  be  a  mere  creature, 
lacking  the  first  attributes  necessary  to  the  execution  of  his  task. 
Suppose  the  universe  of  matter  to  be  created;  yet  is  it  throughout, 
from  the  atom  to  the  mass,  senseless  and  inert.  The  mechanical  forces 
pent  up  within  its  gigantic  frame  slumber  in  a  repose  deep  as  that 
of  death,  until  evoked  and  put  in  play  by  the  operative  will  of  the  Great 
Designer;  and  the  constant  pressure  of  the  same  external  will  is  the 
secret  power  by  which  the  wheels  and  pistons  of  the  blind  machine  are 
driven. 

"Proudly  as  science  may  descant  upon  the  laws  of  nature  which  it 
is  her  providence  to  explore,  they  are  at  last  but  the  formulas  into 
which  our  knowledge,  drawn  from  extended  observation,  is  general- 
ized. It  were  sad  if  reason  should  be  deceived  by  the  pompous  phrase- 
ology, which  often  serves  but  as  the  cover  for  that  ignorance  it  \s 


250       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

too  proud  to  confess.  These  physical  laws  are  but  records  of  facts 
inductively  classified,  not  producing  causes  to  which  these  facts  owe 
existence.  They  are  only  statements  of  the  modes  through  which 
Nature  is  seen  to  work,  and  not  the  secret  power  to  which  that  working 
is  due.  Providence  stands  over  against  creation  thus  as  its  correlate; 
precisely  the  same  energy  being  required  in  the  continuing,  which  was 
first  put  forth  in  the  producing.  The  agent,  then,  to  whom  this  admin- 
istration of  Providence  is  assigned,  must  possess  the  attributes  of  God. 
His  influential  presence  must  pervade  all  nature,  upholding  its  separate 
parts,  balancing  its  discordant  forces,  adjusting  in  exact  proportions 
its  constituent  elements,  reconstructing  it  amidst  constant  change — its 
omnipotent  and  supporting  Head. 

'The  same  is  true  in  the  domain  of  mind.  Myriads  of  beings,  for 
example,  have  pressed  this  globe,  each  of  whom  has  a  history  of  his  own, 
and  each  history  a  separate  thread  in  the  great  web  of  Providence. 
The  slenderest  of  them  may  not  be  drawn  without  a  rent  in  the  general 
tissue.  The  tiniest  babe,  that  wakes  but  for  a  moment  to  an  infant's 
joy,  and  then  closes  its  eyes  in  sleep  forever,  was  bom  for  a  purpose, 
though  bom  but  to  die.  But  see  these  countless  units  as  they  are 
massed  together  in  society,  compacted  into  States,  and  living  under 
government  and  law.  What  complications  are  here,  to  be  mastered 
by  Him  who  is  placed  a^  Head  over  all  1  Alas  1  the  best  statesmanship 
of  earth  breaks  down  in  the  management  even  of  its  subdivided  trusts. 
G>ntingencies  it  had  not  the  wisdom  to  foresee,  and  too  stubborn  for 
control,  brings  its  counsels  to  naught  ;and  the  web  so  patiently  woven 
by  day,  is  unraveled  in  the  night.  What  creature,  then,  may  aspire 
to  the  premiership  of  the  universe  ?  As  the  thought  ranges  upward  from 
the  earth  through  the  grand  hierarchy  of  the  skies,  who  among  the 
creatures  can  take  the  scale  of  such  an  empire,  grasp  the  law  which 
angels  and  seraphim  obey,  weave  the  destinies  of  all  into  one  historic 
conclusion,  and  draw  it  up  finished  and  entire  before  the  Judgment 
Throne?  Just  here,  then,  in  the  attributes  of  his  Grodhead,  we  discern 
the  competency  of  Christ  to  be  the  Head  over  all  things;  equal  to  the 
statesmanship'  of  the  universe,  in  the  perfect  administration  of  a  per- 
fect law. 

"Thus  far  we  have  pressed  up  to  the  divinity  of  Christ,  but  not  to  his 
personal  distinction  in  the  Godhead  as  the  only  begotten  of  the  Father. 
I  remark  then,  2.  That  this  agency  is  suitably  assigned  to  him  as  the 
middle  person  of  the  adorable  Trinity,  by  whose  immediate  efficiency 
all  things  were  created.  We  may  not  too  curiously  pry  into  the  mystery 
of  this  plural  subsistence  in  the  Godhead,  revealed  to  us  as  the  object 
of  faith  rather  than  as  the  subject  of  speculation.  Unquestionably, 
God  is  infinitely  blessed  and  glorious  in  the  ineffable  fellowship  of 
these  persons  as  well  as  in  the  unity  of  his  being.  But  as  these  personal 
distinctions  have  their  ground  in  that  singleness  of  nature,  they  must 
equally  concur  in  all  the  external  operations  of  the  Deity;  and  so  the 


His  Course  During  the  War.  251 

Scriptures  variously  ascribe  the  works  of  creation,  providence  and 
grace  to  each  respectively.  In  this  there  is  no  contradiction;  since 
they  are  assigned  comprehensively  to  all  in  their  unity,  and  distribu- 
tively  to  each  in  their  separateness.  However  unable  we  may  be  to 
trace  the  grounds  of  that  distribution,  they  must  be  found  in  the  recip- 
rocal relations  of  those  persons  in  the  mystery  of  the  Godhead.  Cer- 
tainly the  Scriptures,  however  they  may  generally  refer  the  work  of 
creation  to  Grod  absolute,  as  clearly  assert  the  special  intervention  of  the 
second  person  as  its  immediate  author.  John  in  the  opening  of  his 
Gospel,  declares  with  emphasis  of  the  Word  that  'all  things  were  made 
by  him,  and  without  him  was  not  anything  made/  John  i :  3.  Paul, 
speaking  of  the  Son  whom  God  'hath  appointed  heir  of  all  things,' 
adds,  'by  whom  he  also  made  the  world.'  Heb.  i :  2.  And  in  Colos- 
sians,  'by  him  were  all  things  created  that  are  in  heaven,  and  that  are 
in  earth,  visible  and  invisible,  whether  they  be  thrones  or  dominions 
or  principalities  or  powers ;  all  things  were  created  by  him  and  for  him 
— and  he  is  before  all  things,  and  by  him  all  things  consist'  Col.  i :  16, 
17.  If  then  in  the  out  working  of  this  mighty  plan,  the  control  and 
government  of  all  created  things  should  be  delegated  to  an  agent  who 
must  possess  the  attributes  of  the  Almighty,  which  of  the  sacred  three 
may  occupy  this  trust  more  suitably  than  He  who  in  the  economy  of 
the  Godhead  executively  and  directly  brought  all  things  into  being? 
Who  shall  more  perfectly  grasp  the  design  of  creation  than  He  who 
articulately  wrought  it  out  in  all  its  parts?  Who  shall  better  gather 
up  all  things  unto  himself  as  the  center  and  the  head,  and  administer 
that  Providence  which  is  but  the  continuation  of  the  creative  energy 
which  he  first  put  forth? 

"Unsearchable  as  the  mystery  of  God's  being  doubtless  is,  three 
facts  are  certainly  revealed  to  us:  the  unity  of  the  Divine  essence,  a 
threefold  distinction  of  persons  in  the  same,  and  a  certain  order  between 
them  by  which  the  second  is  from  the  first;  not  posterior  in  time,  but 
second  in  the  sequence  of  thought.  It  would  seem  to  be  a  consequence 
of  this  personal  characteristic  of  the  Son,  as  being  from  the  Father, 
that  the  total  revelation  of  God,  whether  by  word  or  work,  should  be 
through  him.  Thus  the  ground  may  exist  in  the  eternal  relationship 
of  these  persons  for  referring  the  works  of  creation,  providence  and 
grace,  distributively  to  the  first  in  the  way  of  final  authority,  and  to 
the  second  in  the  way  of  executive  production.  The  Father  who  is 
before  all,  shall  hold  in  his  august  keeping,  the  eternal  thought  which 
drafts  the  mighty  plan.  The  Son,  by  virtue  of  his  personal  distinction 
^s  from  the  Father,  shall  produce  the  thought,  lifting  it  up  from  the 
abyss  of  the  infinite  mind  and  revealing  it  to  the  creatures.  Thus  the 
Son  is  also  the  Word;  the  one  title  being  descriptive  of  his  personal 
relation  in  the  Godhead,  and  the  other  of  his  office  as  the  revealer 
flowing  from  the  same.  Hence  Christ  says:  'No  man  hath  seen  the 
Father,  save  He  which  is  of  God ;  he  hath  seen  the  Father.'    John  6 :  46. 


252       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

And  again  the  evangelist  John  affirms,  'no  man  hath  seen  God  at  any 
time;  the  only  begotten  Son  which  is  in  the  bosom  of  the  Father,  he 
hath  declared  him/  John  i :  18.  In  like  manner,  as  the  Son  is  from 
the  Father,  so  in  turn  the  Holy  Spirit  is  from  them  both;  and  he  who 
holds  the  middle  place  in  this  sacred  triplet  looks  upon  the  first  for 
those  archetypal  thoughts  which  he  shall  render  into  concrete  facts, 
and  then  upon  the  third  whose  concurrent  agency  shall  breathe  life 
and  order  and  beauty  into  the  works  of  his  hands.  As  therefore  in 
Christ's  divinity  we  discover  the  resources,  so  again  in  his  personal 
distinction  as  the  Son  we  trace  the  ultimate  reason  of  this  universal 
Headship. 

"But  let  us  turn  from  thoughts  too  high  for  us,  to  contemplate  the 
human  aspect  of  his  person.  For  if  the  power  to  wield  this  empire  vests 
in  him  as  God,  no  less  does  the  form  of  that  jurisdiction  depend  upon 
a  true  participation  in  the  nature  of  those  to  whom  he  is  the  Head. 
I  may  open  this  topic  in  three  particulars: 

"i.  By  his  incarnation  he  has  virtually  embraced  all  the  grades  of 
being  lying  between  the  extremes  of  the  scale.  The  peculiar  distinction 
of  man  is  through  his  mixed  composition  to  be  the  middle  link  of  the 
whole  creation.  As  to  his  body,  he  is  of  the  earth,  earthy;  as  to  his 
soul,  celestial  and  God-like.  How  wonderful  his  bodily  organization, 
of  so  many  parts,  and  so  wisely  adjusted!  The  most  singular  feature 
of  all  being  that  the  presence  of  an  indwelling,  actuating  soul  is  the 
mdispensable  condition  of  its  physical  life.  The  two  are  distinct,  yet 
their  co-operation  necessary.  The  anatomist  can  trace  the  impressions 
upon  the  skin  with  its  fine  tissues,  and  the  transmission  of  these  along 
the  nerves  to  the  brain,  the  seat  of  all  sensation.  But  science  will  never 
perfect  her  methods  so  as  to  step  from  that  brain  to  the  mind  which 
uses  it  as  an  organ,  and  thus  explain  to  us  the  birth  of  a  single  thought 
By  means  of  the  body,  the  soul  comes  forth  and  takes  possession  of 
a  world  which  is  foreign  to  itself;  and  man  connects  them  both  by 
their  mysterious  union  in  himself.  So  far  as  our  knowledge  extends, 
he  is  the  only  being  who  unites  these  contradictions ;  thus  fitted  by  his 
very  organization,  he  was  placed  by  his  Maker  in  Paradise,  the  head 
of  the  lower  creation.  In  token  of  this  supremacy,  the  beasts  receive 
from  him  their  baptismal  names,  and  express  their  allegiance  to  God's 
vice-regent  upon  the  earth.  As  the  high  priest  of  nature,  he  must  give 
articulate  voice  to  her  silent  praise,  and  gather  up  in  his  censer  the 
incense  of  a  universal  worship.  Such  was  the  glory  of  man's  primeval 
state:  himself  a  microcosm,  summing  together  in  the  perfection  of 
his  animal  frame  all  the  properties  of  the  material  creation,  and  by 
the  union  of  spirit  bridging  the  awful  gulf  of  separation  between  the 
two.  Christ  now  according  to  Scripture  sinks  through  the  entire  scale 
of  intelligent  beings  till  he  comes  to  man;  'for  verily,  he  took  not  on 
him  the  nature  of  angels,  but  he  took  on  him  the  seed  of  Abraham.' 
Heb.  2 :  16.    The  two  poles  of  being  are  thus  brought  together  in  him ; 


His  Course  During  the  War.  253 

of  being,  as  it  is  in  God,  self-existent  and  eternal,  and  of  being,  as  it 
is  in  man,  dependent  and  derived.  In  the  sweep  of  his  descent  he 
gathers  up  all  the  intervening  grades,  and  finds  in  man  at  the  bottom 
of  the  scale  a  nature  which  links  all  the  forms  of  creaturely  existence 
within  himself.  Thus  in  the  incarnation  he  lays  a  broad  foundation 
for  his  Headship,  establishing  through  it  a  relation  to  the  creatures 
by  which  they  may  be  recapitulated  in  him  as  their  center  and* their  head. 

"2.  The  human  title  of  Christ  to  this  Headship  is  grounded  upon 
that  perfect  obedience  by  which  he  magnified  the  law.  If  we  are  over- 
whelmed by  the  condescension  of  the  Son  in  stooping  to  become  man, 
not  less  amazing  is  the  counterpart  to  this  in  the  exaltation  of  man  to 
this  universal  Headship.  The  incarnation  lays,  so  to  speak,  a  physical 
basis  for  this  delegated  rule,  by  allying  him  in  nature  with  the  creature ; 
but  there  must  exist  some  moral  ground  for  this  apparent  inversion, 
which  transfers  man  from  the  bottom  to  the  top  of  the  scale. 

"All  the  terms  which  define  a  created  moral  being  imply  his  subju- 
gation under  law.  The  faculties  of  understanding,  conscience  and  will 
with  which  he  is  endowed  must  find  their  scope  in  relations  which  are 
determined  and  regulated  through  a  law.  What  the  air  is  to  the  lungs, 
the  law  is  to  will;  it  creates  the  moral  atmosphere,  through  which  all 
the  powers  of  the  soul  find  their  activity  and  play.  Even  Christ,  in 
the  assumption  of  our  nature,  was  not  exempt  from  this  inexorable 
condition;  for  'God  sent  forth  his  Son  made  of  a  woman,  made  under 
the  law.'  Gal.  4 : 4.  'Being  found  in  fashion  as  a  man,  he  became  obed- 
ient unto  death.'  Phil.  2 : 8.  How  then  shall  his  humanity  lift  itself 
above  the  law,  executively  to  administer  it,  dispensing  on  either  hand 
its  blessing  and  its  curse?  The  explanation  is  immediately  furnished 
in  the  passage  last  cited.  'Wherefore  God  also  hath  highly  exalted  him.' 
Because  of  this  'obedience  unto  death,  even  the  death  of  the  cross;' 
*a  name  is  given  him  which  is  above  every  name ;  at  which  every  knee 
shall  bow,  of  things  in  heaven  and  things  in  earth,  and  things  under 
the  earth.'  Phil.  2 : 9,  10.  In  no  way  conceivable  shall  the  man  Jesus 
be  lifted  to  this  supremacy,  but  by  rendering  a  service  to  the  law, 
commensurate  with  its  dignity,  to  which  this  exaltation  shall  be  an 
equal  reward.  The  mere  assumption  of  humanity  by  the  Logos  doubt- 
less invests  it  with  a  sublime  worth  and  imparts  to  the  acts  done  by 
it  an  infinite  value.  But  the  natural  basis  thus  laid  for  Headship  is 
quite  another  thing  from  the  moral  reason  for  appointing  it.  If,  how- 
ever, the  work  done  by  that  nature  shall  be  a  work  of  support  to  the 
law  itself,  more  conspicuously  revealing  its  majesty  and  sustaining 
it  against  all  possible  impeachment — if  i(  shall  heal  the  dreadful  breach 
which  sin  has  made,  and  discovers  the  love  of  God  in  the  very  as- 
sertion of  his  justice — if,  in  the  language  of  the  prophet,  it  shall  'mag- 
nify the  law  and  make  it  honorable,'  and  be  a  lesson  of  holiness  which 
the  angels  themselves  shall  study:  we  may  then  conceive  that,  to  bring 
out  these  grand  results  in  more  open  view,  God  may  place  the  admin- 


254       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

istration  of  this  law  in  the  hands  of  that  being  who  has  preeminently 
honored  it;  and  install  over  the  whole  creation  one  who  is  fitted  by 
his  double  nature  to  be  its  head.  Yet  the  hypothesis  I  have  suggested, 
is  only  a  faint  outline  of  the  work  actually  achieved  by  our  incarnate 
Lord.  Who  can  hope  to  condense  into  a  paragraph  the  glories  of  that 
obedience  by  which  he  has  forever  magnified  the  law? — an  obedience 
glorious  in. its  perfect  voluntariness,  not  only  as  being  willingly  ren- 
dered, but  as  being  optional  whether  it  shall  be  undertaken:  an  obedi- 
ence glorious  in  being  distinctly  offered  to  the  precept  and  the  penalty 
— ^thus  covering  the  whole  area  of  law  and  exhausting  its  contents;  a 
characteristic  difference  between  the  obedience  of  Christ  and  of  all 
other  beings  throughout  the  universe:  an  obedience  glorious  as  shut 
up  within  a  limit,  bounded  within  a  period — so  that  Christ  could  testify 
in  the  hearing  of  heaven  and  earth,  Mt  is  finished;'  not  like  the  obedi- 
ence of  mere  creatures,  ever  continuing,  but  finished  and  entire;  noth- 
ing to  be  added  to  it — nothing  to  be  taken  from  it,  and  borne  into  the 
chancery  of  heaven  as  the  plea  for  the  sinner's  discharge :  an  obedience 
glorious  through  the  hypostatic  union,  which  brings  the  splendor  of 
his  deity  to  illuminate  the  acts  of  his  humanity.  If  Moses  break  the 
tables  of  stone  at  the  foot  of  the  Mount,  behold  one  greater  than  Moses 
descending  after  him  to  gather  up  the  broken  fragments,  cementing 
them  with  his  blood,  and  pouring  the  rays  of  his  divine  glory  upon 
the  restored  tablet,  until  every  letter  beams  with  light  above  the  bright- 
ness of  the  sun.  Well  may  the  cherubim  bend  their  gaze  between 
their  extended  wings  upon  this  repaired  law  reposing  forever  within 
the  ark  of  the  covenant.  The  transcendant  worth  of  this  obedience, 
as  sustaining  the  majesty  of  God's  law  and  upholding  the  integrity 
of  the  Divine  Government,  is  signalized  by  placing  him  who  wrought 
it  over  the  whole  creation;  and  it  becomes  the  title  by  which  this 
supremacy  is  held  as  his  mediatorial  reward. 

**$.  In  this  Headship  are  blended  the  two  methods  of  law  and  grace, 
by  which  God  reveals  his  moral  perfections.  Beyond  a  doubt,  the  law 
was  the  original  medium  through  which  God's  nature  was  disclosed  to 
the  creature;  and  it  would  not  be  difficult  to  show  that  his  glory  is 
stamped  upon  every  feature  of  it.  Indeed,  springing  out  from  the 
bosom  of  his  nature,  it  not  only  asserts  the  claims  of  God  and  deter- 
mines the  duty  of  the  creature,  but  it  so  transcribes  and  discovers  the 
excellence  of  the  divine  Being  that  the  creature's  obedience  rises  at 
once  into  the  solemnity  of  worship.  For  the  same  reason,  the  law  is 
generally  one  throughout  the  universe.  Having  its  foundation  in  the 
nature  of  one  God,  it  is  essentially  one  over  angels  and  men,  modified 
only  in  its  details  to  suit  the  different  relations  in  which  these  different 
classes  are  placed.  It  is  noticeable  moreover  that  this  law  finds  its 
majesty  vindicated  in  both  its  grand  divisions  through  the  separate  des- 
tiny assigned  to  two  separate  orders  of  beings :  the  holy  angels,  through 
their  constant  obedience,  historically  illustrating  the  glory  of  law  as 


His  Course  Djuring  the  War.  255 

found  in  its  precepts;  and  apostate  angels,  through  constant  endurance 
of  its  penalty.  Such  simple  provision  has  God  made  for  securing  rev- 
enue  of  praise  through  the  wisdom  of  his  law.  Last  of  all,  in  compen- 
sation of  the  stupendous  service  by  which  its  majesty  has  been  upheld, 
the  administration  thereof  has  been  committed  to  the  Mediator,  and 
is  brought  to  a  conclusion  at  the  Day  of  Judgment,  when  he  shall  sit 
upon  the  throne  of  his  glory.  Thus  by  a,  method  of  pure  law,  the  sun- 
light of  Jehovah's  excellence  shines  throughout  the  universe,  gathering 
into  focal  splendor  upon  the  person  of  our  exalted  Savior,  the  organ 
by  whom  it  shall  be  dispensed  to  the  redeemed  forever;  for  it  is  writ- 
ten of  the  New  Jerusalem,  that  it  had  'no  need  of  the  sun,  neither  of 
the  moon  to  shine  in  it,  for  the  glory  of  God  did  lighten  it,  and  the 
Lamb  is  the  light  thereof/    Rev.  21 :  23. 

'There  is  reserved,  however,  a  more  inferior  display  of  Divine  per- 
fections through  a  method  of  grace.  The  law  discovers  God  to  us  in 
the  attributes  of  wisdom,  power,  holiness,  justice  and  truth.  But  how 
shall  Jehovah  open  to  us  his  infinite  heart— disclosing  the  depths  of 
its  tenderness,  his  boundless  compassion,  his  inconceivable  mercy  and 
love?  To  do  this,  he  must  look  upon  the  su£fering  and  loss,  and  find  a 
surety  who  shall  bear  their  guilt  and  die  their  death  under  the  curse. 
But  where  shall  this  substitute  be  found?  In  vain  the  challenge  went 
forth  from  the  august  throne  in  tones  which  only  the  o£fended  law 
could  use,  'Whom  shall  I  send  and  who  shall  go  for  us?  Silence 
reigned  throughout  the  courts  of  heaven:  for  none  of  the  sons  of  the 
morning  might  adventure  the  dreadful  perils  of  such  a  trust — till  a 
voice  sounded  forth  from  the  midst  of  the  throne,  'Lo,  I  come,  I  de- 
light to  do  thy  will,  oh,  my  Godl  yea,  thy  law  is  within  my  heart.' 
Psalm  40 : 7,  8.  Bursting  from  the  secret  pavilion,  the  eternal  Word 
leaps  forth  to  execute  the  stem  demand.  He  unclothes  himself  of  light, 
and  lays  aside  the  garments  of  praise,  and  takes  upon  him  the  form 
of  a  servant,  that  he  may  sound  the  depths  of  human  woe,  and  pay 
the  costly  ransom  for  a  guilty  soul.  By  an  obedience  grander  in  its 
proportions  than  the  aggregate  obedience  of  all  the  creatures,  Christ 
vindicates  the  law's  injured  majesty;  whilst  through  his  grace  he  brings 
out  the  tenderest  affections  of  the  Father  as  a  God  of  love.  Sublime 
is  that  utterance  of  Scripture,  which  tells  us  that  God  is  life;  equally 
sublime  the  testimony,  which  tells  us  he  is  light;  but  grander  still,  in 
the  comprehension  of  them  both,  is  the  revelation  which  tells  us  God 
is  Love,  To  enthrone  this  grace  by  the  side  of  law  as  the  Queen 
Majesty,  the  author  of  grace  is  made  the  administrator  of  law.  As 
the  covering  cloud  tempered  the  brightness  of  God's  presence  upon 
the  mercy  seat,  so  forever  must  the  law  shine  out  from  the  mercy  in 
which  it  is  embosomed;  that  obedience  may  be  sweetened — ^not  only 
as  a  debt  which  conscience  pays  to  duty,  but  an  homage  which  the  heart 
pays  to  love.  Thus,  the  two  lines  of  law  and  grace  by  which  the  Divine 
glory  streams  forth  upon  the  universe,  converge  upon  the  person  of 


2s6       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Jesus  Qirist  in  the  administration  of  his  delegated  trust  as  'the  Head 
over  all  things  to  the  Church.' 

"I  must  now  turn  your  thoughts  from  Christ  to  his  Church,  here 
set  forth  as  his  body  and  fulness,  only  regretting  that  I  must  shut 
up  in  simple  sentences  what  deserves  expansion  through  paragraphs. 

"The  Church,  in  accordance  with  a  very  familiar  distinction,  may 
be  viewed  by  us  in  two  aspect*.  There  is  the  ideal  Church,  conformed 
to  the  pattern  drafted  in  the  Divine  purpose,  composed  of  the  elect  in  all 
ages,  who  have  been  washed,  justified  and  sanctified;  and  there  is  the 
actual,  visible  Church,  composed  of  those  who  profess  faith  in  the  Re- 
deemer, whether  they  be  his  or  not.  These  two  interpenetrate  each 
other,  and  are  largely  identified  in  the  statements  of  Scripture;  and  of 
both,  in  important  though  different  senses,  it  may  be  affirmed  they  are 
the  fulness  of  Christ.    The  former  as  being, 

"i.  The  object  upon  which  the  fulness  of  his  grace  expends  itself. 
The  two  you  perceive  are  reciprocal,  the  fulness  and  the  distribution. 
Thus  the  Evangelist  says:  The  Word  was  made  flesh  and  dwelt 
amongst  us,  and  we  behold  his  glory  as  the  glory  of  the  only  begotten 
of  the  Father,  full  of  grace  and  truth;  and  of  his  fulness  have  all  we 
received,  and  grace  for  grace.'  John  i :  14,  16.  The  same  is  stated  with 
equal  distinctness  in  Col.  2:9,  10 :  Tor  in  him  dwelleth  all  the  fulness 
of  the  Godhead  bodily — and  ye  are  complete  in  him,  which  is  the  Head 
of  all  principality  and  power.*  The  glory  of  Christ  is  not  simply  in 
being  the  architect  of  grace,  by  whom  it  was  historically  wrought  out 
and  engrafted  upon  law;  but  in  being  also  the  depository  of  grace — 
its  dispenser  no  less  than  its  procurer.  The  two  cannot  be  viewed 
apart;  Christ,  the  head  of  all  principality  and  power,  and  the  Church 
complete  in  that  gracious  fulness  which  he  imparts.  Hence,  true  be- 
lievers in  every  age  have  been  drawn  from  all  grades  of  society,  under 
every  degrjee  of  culture,  have  been  placed  under  every  variety  of  dis- 
cipline, subjected  to  every  form  of  temptation,  recovered  from  every 
species  of  sin,  and  conducted  through  all  the  stages  of  spiritual  growth ; 
that  through  all  might  be  displayed  the  exceeding  riches  of  Divine 
grace — grace  for  all,  and  according  to  the  varying  exigencies  of  each. 

"2.  The  Church  of  the  Elect  is  the  body;  that  is  to  say,  it  is  the 
complement  of  the  mystical  Christ.  In  the  Covenant  of  Redemption, 
the  Father  gave  to  the  Son  a  seed  to  be  redeemed,  and  constituted  him 
their  representative  and  surety.  In  all  federal  transactions  the  two 
ideas  are  conjoined.  As  in  the  Covenant  of  Works,  the  first  Adam 
cannot  be  considered  in  his  separate  personality,  but  also  as  the  rep- 
resentative of  his  natural  seed;  so  in  the  Covenant  of  Grace,  the 
second  Adam  is  incomplete  except  as  associated  with  his  spiritual 
seed.  The  two  terms  are  united  in  the  very  notion  of  a  covenant 
In  this  sense,  the  Church  is  preeminently  the  body  and  fulness  of 
Christ;  and  through  all  time  Christ  is  reproducing  himself  in  his 
members.     While  in  his  immediate  person  he  is  exalted  at  the  right 


His  Course  During  the  War.  257 

hand  of  the  majesty  in  the  heavens,  and  will  never  again  appear  but 
with  his  own  glory  and  with  the  glory  of  the  Father,  yet  in  the  Church 
which  is  his  body  he  is  still  'the  man  of  sorrows  and  acquainted  with 
grief.'  In  all  the  persecutions,  afRictions,  temptations  and  distress  of 
his  people  he  renews  his  own  humiliation  and  the  agony  of  his  own 
conflict  with  the  powers  of  darkness.  This  is  the  ground  of  our  con- 
fidence and  hope,  as  we  pass  beneath  the  rod  and  stagger  under  our 
cross;  that  as  'it  behooved  the  great  Captain  of  our  salvation  to  be 
made  perfect  through  suffering,'  so  must  all  members  of  his  body 
drink  of  his  cup,  and  be  baptized  with  the  baptism  with  which  he  wa» 
oaptized. 

"3.  This  Church  of  the  Elect  is  the  fulness  of  Christ,  as  constituting 
the  reward  of  his  mediatorial  work.  Having  redeemed  them  with  his 
own  priceless  blood,  and  sanctified  them  by  his  own  indwelling  Spirit,  he 
must,  according  to  the  stipulations  of  the  covenant,  present  them  to  the 
Father,  'holy  and  without  blame  before  him  in  love.'  To  this  end,  he 
must  appear  as  the  resurrection  and  the  life,  that  they  may  'receive  the 
adoption,  to  wit;  the  redemption  of  their  bodies.'  Amidst  the  terrors 
of  a  burning  world,  he  must  sit  upon  the  throne  of  judgment  and  pro- 
nounce the  Father's  authoritative  benediction,  'come,  ye  blessed  of  my 
Father,  inherit  the  kingdom  prepared  for  you  from  the  foundation  of 
the  world.'  'Then  cometh  the  end,  when  he  shall  deliver  up  the  king- 
dom to  God,  even  the  Father;*  that  God,  in  the  supremacy  of  his  law, 
'may  be  all  in  all.'  Having  wound  up  his  mediatorial  work  in  this 
final  act  of  mediatorial  authority,  and  fulfilled  all  the  promises  on  which 
the  faith  of  his  people  ever  leans,  he  presents  them  to  the  Father, 
according  to  his  eternal  pledge,  a  glorious  Church,  not  having  spot  or 
wrinkle  or  any  such  thing,  but  holy  and  without  blemish,  'meet  for 
the  inheritance  of  the  saints  in  light.'  This  Church  is  then  given  back 
into  his  hands,  to  be  his  reward  and  his  rejoicing  forevermore.  They 
swell  his  train,  as  he  ascends  a  second  time  through  the  clouds  into  the 
heavens:  shouting,  as  they  rise,  the  triumphant  challenge,  'lift  up  your 
heads,  oh  ye  gates,  and  be  ye  lift  up,  ye  everlasting  doors,  and  the 
King  of  glory  shall  come  in.'  Psalm  24 : 7.  Gathered  at  length  in 
'the  General  Assembly  and  Church  of  the  firstborn,  which  are  writ- 
ten in  heaven,'  they  form  the  nearest  circle  around  the  throne,  and 
give  the  keynote  of  that  song  with  which  the  arches  of  the  great  temple 
shall  forever  ring.  Glorious  in  that  righteousness  of  God  which  they 
have  received  by  faith,  the  saints,  like  so  many  crystal  pillars,  shall 
surround  the  Lamb  in  the  midst  of  the  throne ;  till  all  heaven  becomes 
bright  with  the  reflected  splendors  of  that  wrought  righteousness  which 
answers  to  the  holiness  of  God,  expressed  through  the  law.  As  the 
great  anthem  of  praise  rolls  up  from  the  company  of  the  redeemed,  the 
High  Priest  of  the  transfigured  Church  gathers  all  into  his  golden  cen- 
ser and  waves  it  before  the  throne.  Thus,  in  a  sublimer  sense,  the 
God  of  Holiness  is  seen  to  be  'all  in  all;'  and  the  Lamb  again  is  seen 

17 


258       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

to  be  the  light  of  the  New  Jerusalem.  In  this  final  and  exhaustive 
sense,  this  glorified  Church  becomes  the  body  of  the  great  Head,  *the 
fulness  of  him  that  filleth  all  in  all/ 

"It  must  not,  however,  escape  us  that  this  spiritual  Church  has  its 
manifestation  here  in  the  Church  actual  and  visible:  the  incarnation 
through  which  it  becomes  to  us  a  thing  tangible  and  known.  In  this 
view,  also,  Christ  is  still  her  Head— and  she,  his  fulness,  because — 

"i.  In  this  embodied  form  Christ  is  her  only  King;  enacting  by  his 
sole  legislation  laws  for  her  government — ^appointing,  by  his  executive 
authority,  officers  for  her  administration — instituting  in  his  priestly 
jurisdiction  the  ordinances  of  her  worship — ^and  granting,  in  the 
supremacy  of  his  headship,  the  character  by  which  her  immunities 
and  rights  are  held.  In  this  pure  theocracy,  the  Mediator  is  King; 
and  all  power  under  him  is  simply  ministerial.  By  whatever  names 
we  choose  to  designate  her  earthly  guides,  their  function  is  simply 
to  expound  a  written  constitution,  and  to  enforce,  by  spiritual  censures, 
obedience  to  a  spiritual  and  unseen  ruler. 

"2.  Because  through  this  visible  Church  Christ  acquires  his  wider 
mediatorial  authority  over  the  universe.  As  mediator,  his  prime  re- 
lation is  to  those  whom  he  comes  to  reconcile.  The  plan  of  grace, 
though  last  in  development,  is  first  in  the  Divine  thought,  the  most 
stupendous  of  all  God's  works ;  and  the  earth  was  built  but  as  the  stage 
on  which  the  sublime  drama  of  redemption  might  be  enacted.  The 
whole  scheme  of  nature  is  therefore  subordinated  to  it:  and  the  ad- 
ministration of  Providence  is  committed  to  Christ,  for  the  prosecution 
of  that  grace  which  he  came  to  inaugurate.  Hence  Paul  testifies  that 
he  is  given  to  be  the  Head  over  all  things  to  the  Church,  'which  is 
his  body;'  through  her  as  his  fulness  he  himself  'filleth  all  in  all.' 

"3.  Christ,  in  his  precious  headship,  heals  the  breach  which  sin  has 
made  between  the  creatures;  and  the  visible  Church,  finally  embracing 
all  nations  within  her  pale,  bodies  forth  this  grand  result.  The  first 
transgression  not  only  separated  man  from  God,  but  seemed  forever 
to  have  dissolved  the  brotherhood  between  the  creatures  also.  From 
that  day  till  now,  the  beasts  of  the  field  have  been  in  revolt  against 
the  dominion  of  man,  and  the  elements  of  nature  are  reclaimed  under 
his  control  only  through  the  discoveries  of  science.  The  one  speech 
of  the  infant  race  has  been  broken  into  a  thousand  jarring  tongues, 
and  the  earth  has  been  covered  with  violence  and  blood.  But  the 
Reconciler  came.  Planting  his  cross  as  the  great  magnet  of  earth,  he 
draws  to  himself  his  purchased  seed,  incorporates  them  into  a  society 
of  love,  and  sends  them  forth  to  throw  its  bands  around  a  shattered 
world.  Prophecy,  through  her  roll,  shows  in  the  dim  perspective  this 
Church  embracing  all  lands  and  tongues  and  tribes  within  her  arms, 
and  'the  kingdoms  of  this  world  becoming  the  kingdoms  of  our  Lord 
and  of  his  Christ'  The  reconciliation  ends  not  here.  When  this  mili- 
tant Church  shall  be  transfigured  in  the  skies,  to  her  visible  worship 


His  Course  During  the  War.  259 

and  fellowship  will  be  added  the  'innumerable  company  of  angels' 
whom  sin  has  never  soiled.  The  sad  breach  is  forever  healed,  and  cher- 
ubim and  a  flaming  sword  shall  no  longer  guard  the  way  to  the  tree 
of  life  against  guilty  man.  He  who  has  'made  reconciliation  for  iniquity 
and  brought  in  everlasting  righteousness/  has  also  'made  an  end  of 
sins/  Sin,  death  and  hell  are  cast  into  the  lake  of  fire,  and  the  redeemed 
tmiverse  is  brought  into  one  under  him  who  is  Head  over  all.  Saints 
and  angels  shall  blend  in  harmony  of  praise  around  his  throne,  and  the 
schism  of  sin  be  cancelled  forever  in  the  Church  fellowship  of  heaven. 
"Fathers  and  Brethren,  I  must  not  shut  down  the  gate  upon  the 
flood  of  this  discourse,  without  pointing  to  the  consolation  for  us  in 
this  day  of  darkness  and  trial,  wrapped  up  in  the  headship  of  the  ador- 
able Redeemer.  What  tenderness  it  gives  to  the  whole  doctrine  of 
Providence!  Once  we  trembled  in  our  guilt  and  shame,  and  could  not 
look  upon  the  angry  throne,  to  us 

"A  seat  of  dreadful  wrath, 
Which    shot    devouring   flame.' 

But  healing  peace  flowed  into  our  wounded  hearts,  as  we  looked  upon 
'God  in  Christ,  reconciling  the  world  unto  himself.'  In  like  manner 
the  dispensations  of  Providence  seem  relentless  and  stem,  as  they 
frown  upon  us  from  'the  tmknown  God;'  but  the  dark  clouds  are 
drenched  in  soft  axyi  mellow  light,  as  they  are  moved  by  the  hands  of 
our  'Immanuel,  God  with  us.'  All  judgment  is  committed  to  the  Son 
of  man;  can  we  not  trust  him,  our  elder  brother,  clothed  with  all 
our  sympathies,  who  hath  borne  our  griefs  and  carried  our  sorrows, 
and  is  able  to  succor  in  that  he  himself  hath  suffered?  The  name  of 
this  precious  Jesus  broke  for  us  the  spell  of  despair,  when  in  the  hour 
of  legal  conviction  conscience  hung  up  the  ghastly  catalogue  of  our 
sins  against  the  Judgment  throne.  The  name  of  Jesus  will  be  the 
last  upon  our  lips,  softly  whispered  by  the  departing  spirit  as  the  last 
breath  wafts  it  upward  to  the  skies.  It  will  be  first  upon  our  lips  when 
the  grave  shall  yield  up  its  dead  to  meet  the  Lord  in  the  air.  Shall 
it  not  be  always  upon  our  lips,  taking  away  the  bitterness  of  our  priv- 
ate and  our  public  lot;  when  all  these  dispensations  are  read  through 
an  exposition  of  grace,  and  are  seen  throughout  to  be  a  discipline 
of  love? 

"What  safety  also  to  the  universe  is  this  headship  of  Jesus!  He  who 
grasped  the  idea  of  creation  as  it  lay  a  silent  thought  in  the  mind  of 
God,  can  surely  work  out  the  eternal  purpose  in  which  it  was  framed. 
For  this  very  end,  he  is  given  to  be  the  Head  over  all  things — that 
as  he  is  'before  all  things/  so  'by  him  shall  all  things  consist/  The 
overturnings  upon  earth  make  no  Assure  in  the  one  solemn  purpose 
of  the  infinite  Creator,  and  no  sudden  disclosures  startle  Him  into 
surprise.  The  shuttle  of  history  moves  swiftly  and  blindly  from  age 
to  age;  but  the  great  web  is  woven  according  to  the  pattern  originally 
designed  in  the  counsel  of  the  Godhead. 


26o       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

"But  he  is  Head  over  all  things  to  the  Church!  Whilst,  therefore, 
a  purpose  of  grace  remains  to  be  fulfilled  in  that  Church  which  he  has 
graven  on  the  palms  of  his  hands  and  wears  as  a  seal  upon  his  heart, 
so  long  the  world  is  safe  in  the  keeping  of  him  whose  love  is  stronger 
than  death.  The  Christian  Church  is  to  a  Christian  nation  the  ark 
of  Jehovah's  covenant;  and  we  are  here  to-day  in  sublime  faith  to 
bear  that  ark  upon  our  shoulders  in  the  presence  of  this  infant  nation, 
as  she  passes  under  her  baptism  of  blood.  Let  us  gather  with  rever- 
ence around  it,  and  sing  with  Luther  the  46th  Psalm :  'God  is  our  refuge 
and  strength,  a  very  present  help  in  time  of  trouble.  Therefore  will  we 
not  fear,  though  the  earth  be  removed,  and  though  the  mountains  be 
carried  into  the  midst  of  the  sea;  though  the  waters  thereof  roar  and 
be  troubled,  though  the  mountains  shake  with  the  swelling  thereof, 
though  the  kingdoms  be  moved,  and  the  earth  melted — ^yet  the  Lord 
of  Hosts  is  with  us,  the  God  of  Jacob  is  our  refuge.* 

"What  glory,  too,  surrounds  the  Church;  an  outer  halo,  a  second 
rainbow  to  that  which,  like  an  emerald,  John  saw  round  the  throne! 
She  is  the  body  of  Christ,  the  bride,  the  Lamb's  wife,  whose  'beauty* 
the  'King  hath  greatly  desired.'  She  is  glorious  in  her  'raiment  of 
needlework,'  'her  clothing  of  wrought  gold,'  'the  fine  linen  clean  and 
white,  which  is  the  righteousness  of  saints.'  The  Church  of  the  living 
God!  and,  therefore,  herself  living  by  a  secret  li^p  flowing  from  him 
who  is  life,  and  bestowed  by  the  indwelling  Spirit  who  is  the  quickener. 
The  immortal  Church  of  Christ,  which  survives  all  change  and  never 
knows  decay!  Alas,  the  paths  of  earth  are  strewn  with  the  wrecks 
of  broken  empires,  constructed  by  human  wisdom  and  shattered  through 
human  folly  and  sin.  But  this  Church  of  the  Redeemer  moves  through 
them  all  upon  the  grand  highway  of  history,  and  'flourishes  in  immor- 
tal youth.'  She  rode  upon  the  billows  of  a  universal  deluge,  beneath 
whose  gloomy  depths  lay  a  doomed  and  buried  world.  Patriarchs 
gathered  beneath  her  shade  in  the  aged  and  hoary  past  Moses  pitched 
her  tabernacle  upon  the  sands  of  the  wilderness,  and  beneath  the  frown- 
ing brows  of  Sinai.  Prophets  pointed  out  her  pathway  through  the 
uprolling  mists  of  the  distant  future.  Through  the  unfolding  ages  she 
has  moved  securely  on,  while  disastrous  change  has  ground  to  powder 
and  scattered  to  the  winds  the  proudest  dynasties  of  earth.  Kings  have 
bound  her  with  fetters  of  brass;  but  the  fair  captive  has  taken  again 
her  harp  from  the  willows,  and  God  has  made  her  walls  salvation  and 
her  gates  praise.  Amidst  the  fires  of  martyrdom,  she  has  risen  younger 
from  the  ashes  of  her  own  funeral  pile.  Wooing  the  nations  with  her 
accents  of  love,  she  lengthens  her  cords  to  gather  them  into  her  broad 
pavilion.  And  when  the  whole  frame  of  nature  shall  be  dissolved, 
she  will  stand  serene  above  the  burning  earth,  to  welcome  her  descend- 
ing Lord.  Caught  up  by  him  into  the  heavens,  she  will  gather  into  her 
communion  there  all  the  elder  sons  of  God;  still  the  immortal  Church 


His  Course  During  the  War.  261 

of  the  Redeemer,  outliving  all  time  and  henceforth  counting  her  years 
upon  the  dial  of  eternity! 

"Do  we  understand,  Fathers  and  Brethren,  the  mission  of  the  Church 
given  us  here  to  execute?  It  is  to  lift  up  throughout  the  world  our 
testimony  for  this  headship  of  Christ  The  convocation  of  this  As- 
sembly is  in  part  that  testimony.  But  a  little  while  since,  it  was  at- 
tempted in  the  most  august  court  of  our  Church  to  place  the  crown  of 
our  Lord  upon  the  head  of  Caesar — to  bind  that  body,  which  is  Christ's 
fulness,  to  the  chariot  in  which  that  Caesar  rides.  The  intervening 
months  have  sufficiently  discovered  the  character  of  that  State,  under 
whose  yoke  this  Church  was  summoned  to  bow  her  neck  in  meek  obedi- 
ence. But  in  advance  of  these  disclosures,  the  voice  went  up  through- 
out our  land,  of  indignant  remonstrance  against  the  usurpation,  of 
solenm  protest  against  the  sacrilege.  And  now  this  Parliament  of 
the  Lord's  freemen  solemnly  declares  that,  by  the  terms  of  her  great 
charter,  none  but  Jesus  may  be  the  King  in  Zion.  Once  more  in  this 
distant  age  and  in  these  ends  of  the  earth,  the  Church  must  declare 
for  the  supremacy  of  her  Head,  and  fling  out  the  consecrated  ensign 
with  the  old  inscription,  *for  Christ  and  his  crown.* 

''Let  this  testimony  be  borne  upon  the  winds  over  the  whole  earth, 
that  he  who  is  'Head  over  all  things  to  the  Church,'  'ruleth  in  the  king- 
dom of  men,  and  giveth  it  to  whomsoever  he  will,'  until  all  nations 
are  brought  to  'praise  and  extol  and  honor  the  King  of  heaven,  all 
whose  works  are  truth  and  his  ways  judgment'  Let  us  take  this 
young  nation  now  struggling  into  birth  to  the  altar  of  God,  and  seal 
its  loyalty  to  Christ,  in  the  faith  of  that  benediction  which  says,  'Blessed 
is  that  nation  whose  God  is  the  Lord.'  The  footsteps  of  our  King 
are  to  be  seen  in  all  the  grand  march  of  history,  which  begins  and  ends 
in  a  true  theocracy.  Our  voice  is  to  be  the  voice  of  one  crying  in  the 
wilderness,  'prepare  ye  the  way  of  the  Lord,  make  straight  in  the 
desert  a  highway  for  our  God:'  for  he  'will  overturn,  overturn,  over- 
turn, until  he  come  whose  right  it  is' — ^and,  'the  kingdoms  of  this  world 
shall  become  the  kingdoms  of  our  Lord  and  of  his  Christ.' 

"Above  all,  it  is  ours  to  bear  aloft  the  Redeemer's  cross,  and  with  the 
finger  ever  pointing  to  say,  with  the  Baptist  on  the  banks  of  Jordan, 
'Behold  the  Lamb  of  God  which  taketh  away  the  sin  of  the  world!' 
May  He  who  wears  the  crown  make  us  to  feel  the  power  of  that  cross ! 
Brethren,  we  have  to-day  been  gazing  tnto  heaven  after  our  ascending 
Lord,  ascending  to  his  headship  and  his  crown.  From  his  gracious 
throne  he  unfolds  the  sacred  parchment  on  which  our  charter  and  com- 
mission are  engrossed:  'Go  ye  into  all  the  world  and  disciple  all  na- 
tions.' With  pathetic  gesture,  he  also  points  over  mountains,  continents 
and  seas  to  the  'other  sheep  which  are  not  of  this  fold,'  wandering 
upon  the  bleak  heather,  under  the  dark  star  of  some  idol  god.  May 
the  rushing  mighty  wind  of  the  Pentecostal  day  fill  this  house  where 
we  are  sitting!  and  may  the  tongues  of  fire  rest  upon  each  of  this 


262       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Assembly!  Emblem  of  the  power  with  which  the  story  of  suffering 
love  shall  subdue  an  apostate  world!  Sinking  personal  ambition,  and 
forgetful  of  sectional  aggrandizement,  let  us  strive  to  equip  the  Giurch 
with  the  necessary  agencies  for  the  prosecution  of  her  solemn  work. 
Let  us  build  her  towers  and  establish  her  bulwarks  just  where  the 
most  effective  assaults  may  be  made  upon  the  kingdoms  of  Satan; 
that  'her  righteousness  may  go  forth  as  brightness  and  her  salvation 
as  a  lamp  that  burneth;'  and  Zion  become  *a  crown  of  glory/  a  'royal 
diadem  in  the  hand  of  our  God.'" 

The  preacher  was  at  once  chosen  as  moderator  of  the  As- 
sembly. 

The  whole  of  his  work  in  this  Assembly  seems  to  have  been 
on  the  same  high  level  with  his  sermon.  The  Assembly  in- 
dulged in  no  political  decisions  and  in  no  political  discussions 
but  devoted  itself  exclusively  to  the  affairs  of  Christ's  king- 
dom; and  even  uttered  high  and  memorable  testimony  con- 
cerning the  spirituality  of  the  Qiurch. 

Returning  to  New  Orleans,  Dr.  Palmer  devoted  himself  to 
the  performance  of  his  duties  as  pastor  till  about  the  first  of 
April,  1862.  Letters  from  some  to  whom  he  ministered  during 
all  these  months  of  186 1  and  1862  in  New  Orleans,  show  that 
he  continued  to  be,  notwithstanding  the  tempestuous  times  and 
his  passionate  devotion  to  the  Southern  cause,  the  most  help- 
ful of  pastors  and  preachers. 

Meanwhile  he  had  found  time  to  prepare  a  paper  on  "The 
Art  of  Conversation,"  which  appeared  in  the  Southern  Presby- 
terian Review,  January,  1862, — ^an  article  betraying  a  thorough 
philosophy  of  the  art  and  presenting  a  noble  plea  for  its  culti- 
vation as  a  means  of  elevating  the  tone  of  social  intercourse. 
The  production  should  be  published  as  a  brochure  and  widely 
circulated. 

Early  in  April,  1862,  Dr.  Palmer  left  New  Orleans,  intending 
to  visit  the  army  of  General  Albert  Sidney  Johnston,  and  later 
to  attend  the  meeting  of  the  General  Assembly  of  his  Church, 
appointed  to  convene  in  Memphis,  Tenn.  He  seems  to  have 
been  with  General  Johnston's  army  immediately  before  the 
battle  of  Shiloh.  According  to  tradition,  astride  a  horse, 
he  delivered  a  thrilling  address  to  a  portion  of  Johnston's  army 
just  before  it  went  into  the  battle. 

In  view  of  the  presence  of  the  conflicting  armies  in  the  near 
vicinity  of  the  city  of  Memphis,  and  the  consequent  difficulty 
and  danger  of  meeting  in  that  place,  provision  was  made  that 


His  Course  During  the  War.  263 

the  General  Assembly,  instead  of  convening  in  Memphis,  should 
gather  at  Montgomery,  Ala.     Dr.   Palmer  was  his   Presby- 
tery's commissioner  to  the  Assembly.     It  had  been  his  pur- 
pose to  attend — z  purpose  which  he  failed  to  realize.     He 
found  himself  pressed  by  the  Governor  of  Mississippi  into  the 
patriotic  function  of  stumping  the  State  with  'a  view  to  the  rec-    . 
onciliation  of  those  disaffected  with  the  Government  of  the     . 
Confederacy  at  Richmond.     Naturally,  to  the  Mississippians  ^ 
insufficient  means  seemed  to  have  been  taken  to  protect  them 
against  the  enemy.     It  was  feared  that  they  would  be  little 
disposed  to  co-operate  with  the  Confederacy.    Dr.  Palmer  de- 
livered patriotic  addresses  at  various  points  and  with  fine  effect. 
Of  his  address  at  Jackson  The  Mississippian  says : 

"This  distinguished  orator,  philosopher  and  divine,  whose  services 
in  the  cause  of  civil  and  religious  liberty  have  excited  the  admiration 
and  gratitude  of  the  whole  Southern  Confederacy,  addressed  on  yes- 
terday one  of  the  largest  and  most  intelligent  audiences  ever  assembled 
in  the  Representatives'  Hall.  It  was  a  most  profound,  philosophical 
and  exhaustive  exposition  of  the  grounds  of  our  defence  in  the  great 
struggle  in  progress  before  the  bar  of  God  and  in  the  forum  of  nations. 
It  covered  the  whole  ground  upon  which  we  rest  our  cause,  and  chal- 
lenged the  verdict  of  the  world.  It  was  designed  to  present  the  argu- 
ment upon  which  the  Christian  moralist  and  patriot  may  rely,  and  upon 
which  we  may  justify  the  position  assumed  by  the  seceded  States. 
And  most  triumphantly  did  he  present  it  But  we  shall  attempt  no 
analysis  of  what  could  in  no  sense  be  said  to  be  a  political  speech,  or 
popular  address.  It  was  but  giving  voice  to  thought  almost  too  deep 
for  utterance,  such  as  the  plummet  line  of  ephemeral  politicians,  in 
their  discussion  of  the  subjecf  never  sounded. 

''As  his  vast  audience  hung  entranced,  they  knew  not  which  most 
to  admire,  the  charm  of  classic  imagery,  the  rich  and  glowing  elo- 
quence which  flowed  from  his  lips  in  words  almost  divine,  the  grand 
and  massive  proportions  of  the  argument,  which  challenged  conviction 
and  defied  criticism,  or  the  catholic  spirit  of  the  Christian  patriot  who 
confides  in  the  justice  of  his  cause  and  the  justice  of  his  God. 

"Dr.  Palmer's  style  of  speaking  is  wholly  unlike  that  of  the  sensa- 
tional preachers  and  orators.  There  is  no  straining  after  effect  or 
display.  He  has  no  time  to  think  of  the  meretricious  ornaments  of 
the  mere  rhetorician.  His  soul  is  too  deeply  imbued  with  the  mighty 
theme  and  the  mighty  thoughts  which  sway  it,  to  give  heed  to  these 
things.  The  weightier  matters  of  the  law  claim  his  attention.  The 
graces  of  oratory  and  poetry  fall  in,  only  because  they  were  bom  in 
him.  What  is  said  of  Lord  Brougham  may  with  equal  truth  be  said 
of  Dr.  Palmer — 'he  wields  the  club  of  Hercules  entwined  with  roses.* " 


264       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

The  following  memento  of  this  trip  has  been  preserved  and 
is  a  prized  possession  of  Mrs.  Gussie  Palmer  Morris,  Mobile, 
Ala.: 

"Headquarters   Western   Department, 
"Quartermaster's  Office,  May  21,   1862. 
"Capt:  The  commanding  General  of  the  Department  directs  that  you 
furnish  a  saddle  and  bridle  to  the  Rev.  Dr.  Palmer  attached  to  the 
Washington  Artillery  of  New  Orleans. 

"Respectfully,  your  obedient  servant, 

*"GuY  G.   McLean,  Major  and  P.   QYm. 
"Capt.  E.  A.  Dcslinde,  A.Q.M.,  Corinth." 

Toward  the  end  of  April,  1862,  Commodore  David  G.  Farra- 
gut's  fleet  braved  the  hazards  of  the  Confederate  batteries 
and  captured  New  Orleans.  May  i,  Butler  led  his  army  into 
the  city.  Dr.  Palmer  was  looked  upon  by  Union  men  as  an 
arch  rebel  and  fomenter  of  treason.  His  friends  advised  him 
^ot  to  return.  His  family  were  gotten  out  of  the  city  and  into 
,  his  possession.  He  carried  them,  first,  to  Hazelhurst,  Miss.; 
/  and  in  August,  to  Columbia,  S.  C,  at  which  place  he  established 
/  them  in  the  home  of  Mrs.  George  Howe,  Mrs.  Palmer's  mother. 
During  the  period  while  his  family  was  at  Hazelhurst,  Dr. 
Palmer  seems  to  have  again  labored  with  the  army  of  the  West, 
now  under  Bragg.  It  was  probably  near  the  close  of  this  per- 
iod that  he  was  disappointed  of  a  congregation  to  preach  to, 
after  having  seen  a  fine  one  assembled.  In  view  of  the  alarm- 
ing conditions  then  existing  throughout  the  South,  the  people 
had  been  requested  to  observe  a  day  of  fasting  and  prayer  on  a 
certain  Thursday  a  little  after  the  middle  of  August,  1862.  Dr. 
Palmer  being  in  Chattanooga  and  stopping  at  the  home  of  the 
Rev.  T.  H.  McCallie,  D.D.,  the  pastor  of  the  First  Presby- 
terian Church  in  Chattanooga,  was  requested  to  conduct  the 
service.  "The  house  was  crowded  with  citizens  and  soldiers. 
Dr.  Palmer  arose  to  pray,  the  audience  rising  with  him  and 
standing ;  scarcely  had  he  begun  to  pray  when  the  scream  of  a 
shell  flying  over  the  church  was  heard,  and  the  distant  boom  of 
a  cannon  from  the  opposite  side  of  the  Tennessee  River.  In  a 
moment  came  another  shell  screaming  and  another  cannon 
booming.  The  soldiers  began  quietly  to  withdraw,  then  the 
citizens,  until  presently  the  church  was  almost  empty,  and  still 
the  good  doctor  prayed  calmly  on.  When  he  had  closed  his 
eyes  the  church  was  full  of  people,  when  he  opened  them  it 

^It   is   difficult  to   discipher  this  signature. 


His  Course  During  the  War.  265 

was  on  empty  pews."  "It  was  an  advance  of  the  enemy's 
cavalry  outposts.  The  party  had  crept  in  under  Bragg's 
guard."  ^ 

Having  in  the  latter  part  of  August  established  his  family 
in  Columbia,  S.  C,  during  the  fall  and  winter  succeeding  he 
supplied  a  mission  chapel  two  miles  out  from  the  town;  and 
taught  in  the  Seminary  during  the  session  1862-1863,  having 
been  oflFered  the  professorship  made  vacant  by  the  death  of 
Dr.  James  Henley  Thornwell,  August  i,  1862. 

Dr.  Palmer  delivered  a  masterly  eulogy  upon  Dr.  Thornwell 
September  17,  1862.  Happy  the  eulogist  with  such  a  subject, 
and  happy  the  subject  with  such  a  eulogist.  The  eulogy  was  de- 
livered in  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  of  Columbia,  at  the 
request  of  the  officers  of  the  church  and  in  the  presence  of  the 
Board  of  Directors  of  the  Theological  Seminary.  It  was  the 
germ  of  the  very  fine  biography  of  Dr.  Thornwell  which  Dr. 
Palmer  was  subsequently  to  write.  Beginning  with  the  thought 
that  we  must  all  reverence  great  men,  he  asserts  that  such  an 
one  has  passed  from  their  midst,  and  then  draws  the  following 
outlines  of  ThomweU's  portrait: 

"A  man  gifted  with  the  highest  genius, — ^not  that  fatal  gift  of  genius 
which,  without  guidance,  so  often  blasts  its  possessor,  its  baleful  gleam 
blighting  everything  pure  and  true  on  earth, — ^but  genius  disciplined 
by  the  severest  culture,  and  harnessing  itself  to  the  practical  duties 
of  life,  until  it  wrought  a  work  full  of  blessing  and  comfort  to  mankind ; 
a  mind  which  ranged  through  the  broad  field  of  human  knowledge, 
gathered  up  the  fruits  of  almost  universal  learning,  and  wove  garlands 

•This  statement  was  taken  in  large  part  from  the  Manual  of  the 
First  Presbyterian  Church,  Chattanooga,  Tenn.,  for  the  year  1004. 
But  we  have  ventured  to  change  the  date  from  1863  to  1862,  not  with- 
out some  hesitation  since  the  compilers  of  that  Manual  should  know 
the  local  history  and  since  Some  little  other  evidence  of  probable  weight 
points  to  the  year  1863.  Our  reasons  for  making  the  change  of  date 
are  (i)  that  a  writer  in  a  Louisville,  Ky.,  paper  of  1870  tells  the  inci- 
dent and  dates  its  occurrence  in  1862;  (2)  that  Dr.  John  W.  Caldwell, 
son-in-law  to  Dr.  Palmer,  and  his  family  say  that  the  incident  occurred 
in  1862,  and  that  Dr.  Palmer  was  not  in  Chattanooga  in  August,  1863, 
a  statement  confirmed  at  least  with  considerable  probable  force  by 
utterances  of  Dr.  Palmer  in  his  report  on  his  work  of  that  summer, 
made  to  the  General  Assembly  of  1864.  Should  further  investigation 
show  that  it  was  delivered  in  1863,  it  will  also  show,  we  believe,  that 
it  was  delivered  the  last  of  June  or  first  days  of  July. 


266       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

of  beauty  around  discussions  the  most  thorny  and  abstruse;  an  intel- 
lect steeped  in  philosophy,  which  soared  upon  its  eagle  wings  into 
the  highest  regions  of  speculative  thought,  then  stooped  with  meek 
docility  and  worshipped  in  childlike  faith  at  the  cross  of  Christ;  a 
man  who  held  communion  with  all  of  every  age  that  had  eternal 
thoughts,  and  then  brought  the  treasures  hoarded  in  the  literature  of 
the  past,  and  sanctified  them  to  the  uses  of  practical  religion.  Yet,  a 
man  not  coldly  great,  but  who  could  stoop  from  lofty  contemplation 
to  sport  and  toy  with  loving  ones  around  his  hearthstone ;  with  a  heart 
warm  with  the  instincts  of  friendship,  so  brave,  so  generous  and  true 
that  admiration  of  his  genius  was  lost  in  affection  for  the  man,  and 
the  breath  of  envy  never  withered  a  single  leaf  of  all  the  honors  with 
which  a  single  generation  crowned  him.  Alas!  that  death  should  have 
power  to  crush  out  such  a  life!  Our  Chrysostom  is  no  more!  The 
'Golden  Mouth'  is  sealed  up  in  silence  forever! 


u  t 


The  chord,  the  harp's  full  chord  is  hushed; 
The  voice  hafh  died  away. 
Whence  music  like  sweet  waters  gushed 
But  yesterday.' 

"The  glory  of  man  is  as  the  flowers  of  grass ;  'our  fathers,  where  are 
they;  and  the  prophets,  do  they  live  forever?*  The  men  who  with 
their  heroic  deeds  make  history  to-day,  become  its  theme  and  song 
to-morrow !" 

Having  dashed  this  outline  on  his  canvas  the  speaker  went 
on*  with  telling  strokes  and  deft  touches  to  fill  it  in,  giving 
one  of  the  most  brilliant  pieces  of  literary  portraiture  in  the 
modern  tongues. 

December  20,  1862,  he  pronounced  a  funeral  address  over 
the  remains  of  General  Maxey  Gregg,  also  in  the  Presbyterian 
Church  in  Columbia,  S.  C.  The  address  is  fully  up  to  the  high 
level  of  Dr.  Palmer's  best  work.  He  was  the  master  of  the 
pathetic  and  the  sentimental.  The  first  paragraph  of  this  ad- 
dress is  given  because  of  the  light  it  throws  on  the  conditions 
within  the  State  and  the  Confederacy  at  the  time : 

"We  meet  this  day  in  the  house  of  God  to  mourn — to  mourn  for 
ourselves,  and  for  the  State,  the  mother  that  has  borne  us  all!  When 
death  comes  in  at  the  window  and  steals  away  its  victim  from  some 
private  circle,  a  whole  community  will  yield  obedience  to  the  law  of 
Christian  sympathy  and  weep  with  those  that  weep.  But  to-day  the 
State,  like  the  Spartan  mother  of  old,  receives  through  us  one  of  her 
noblest  sons  upon  his  shield,  and  pours  out  her  grief  upon  his  venerated 
form.  Alas !  Our  bereaved  mother !  How  often  of  late  she  has  strained 
her  dead  sons  to  her  bosom,  in  that  last  embrace  and  then  turned  aside. 


His  Course  During  the  War.  267 

like  Rachel,  to  weep,  'refusing  to  be  comforted,  because  they  are  not!* 
Where  is  the  family  amongst  us  that  does  not  whisper  its  secret  grief 
around  the  evening  hearth  ?  And  where  the  village  cemetery  whose 
sacred  enclosure  does  not  shelter  some  patriot's  grave?  Her  martyred 
sons  sleep  everywhere  upon  her  soil;  upon  the  mountain's  grassy 
slope,  beneath  the  peaceful  watching  of  the  silent  stars,  to  where  the 
ocean  fingers  the  earth  with  its  foam,  and  chants  with  its  deep  bass 
the  low,  funeral  dirge!  But  here,  to-day,  in  the  center  of  them  all, 
with  his  sword  beneath  his  head,  we  bury  the  gallant  chieftain  who 
led  the  strife  in  which  they  bravely  fell.  What  language  can  rise  to 
the  solemn  majesty  of  this  assembly,  or  speak  with  the  pathos  which 
belongs  to  unuttered  sorrow !  Were  I  to  follow  the  impulse  of  my  own 
heart,  I  would  cover  my  head,  and  sit  a  silent  mourner  beside  that  bier, 
rather  than  be  the  voice  to  utter  the  wail  which  now  rends  every 
breast  throughout  this  commonwealth." 

March  27,  1863,.  he  delivered  a  discourse  before  the  Legis- 
lature of  Georgia,  on  "The  Rainbow  Round  the  Throne;  or 
Judgment  Tempered  with  Mercy,  "  Rev.  4 :  2,  3.  The  day  had 
been  appointed  as  a  day  of  fasting,  humiliation  and  prayer, 
by  Mr.  Jefferson  Davis,  president  of  the  Confederate  States. 

Establishing  on  solid  grounds  the  thesis  that  there  is  a  union 
of  justice  and  mercy  in  God's  government  of  the  world,*  he 
next  raised  the  question  as  to  whether  they  could  determine 
"whether  the  sufferings  of  our  beloved  band  fell  upon  it  in 
the  way  of  penal  judgment,  or  of  paternal  discipline."  He 
asks:  "Upon  the  dark  background  of  the  cloud  which  now 
hangs  so  low  and  drenches  it  with  sorrow  and  with  blood,  can 
we  discover  the  sign  of  the  rainbow,  the  emblem  of  mercy 
and  hope?"  "To  these  questions,"  he  says,  "I  will  return  the 
long  pondered  and  deeply  cherished  convictions  of  my  own 
heart;  and  may  God  help  me  this  day  to  speak  comfortably  to 
Jerusalem,  and  cry  unto  her  that  her  warfare  is  accomplished, 
that  her  iniquity  is  pardoned  and  that  she  shall  receive  of  the 
Lord  double  for  all  her  sins !"  He  makes  and  unfolds  with  all 
his  fertility  of  lofty  illustration  the  following  points,  viz: 
(i)  I  recognize  in  the  schism  which  has  rent  asunder  the 
American  people  only  a  new  application  of  the  law  by  which 
God  has  ever  governed  the  world;  that  of  breaking  in  two  a 
nation  which  has  grown  too  strong  for  its  virtue,  in  order  to 


•It  is  disappointing  to  find  that  in  this  argument  Dr.  Palmer  inci- 
dentally champions  the  view  that  the  Civil  Government  should  ac- 
knowledge Christ  as  God  of  Providence. 


268       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

its  preservation  and  continuance.  (2)  We  make  our  appeal 
to  Him  who  ruled  beneath  the  rainbow,  on  the  ground  tiiat, 
touching  this  controversy  between  us  and  our  foes,  we  are 
blameless.  (Through  five  and  eighty  years  of  our  united  his- 
tory we  have  never  broken  the  covenant  sworn  for  us  by  our 
fathers;  though  a  partial  and  unjust  legislation  has  discrim- 
inated against  us,  turning  the  products  of  our  fields  into  their 
coffers,  and  draining  our  wealth  to  build  up  the  palaces  of 
their  merchant  princes,  etc.)  (3)  I  derive  consolation 
from  the  marked  interpositions  of  God  in  our  favor,  during 
the  present  struggle ;  coupled  with  his  frequent  disappointment 
of  some  of  our  reasonable  expectations.  (4)  The  North  can- 
not succeed  against  the  South  except  through  the  perpetration 
of  a  double  crime  without  a  parallel  in  the  annals  of  the  race, 
— the  extermination  of  both  tihe  white  and  the  black  race  upon 
our  soil.  (5)  Our  cause  is  preeminently  the  cause  of  God  him- 
self, and  every  blow  struck  by  us  is  in  defense  of  his  suprem- 
acy." 

The  sermon  makes  pathetic  reading  now;  but  under  the 
magic  of  his  voice  and  port  it  could  hardly  have  failed  to  make 
heroes  of  all  who  heard  it.  He  preferred  death  to  subjugation ; 
and  he  believed  that  he  and  his  compatriots  were  fighting 
God's  battles  as  well  as  those  of  his  dear  Southland. 

The  reader  will  recall  that  years  back  Dr.  and  Mrs.  Palmer 
had  shown  much  kindness  to  Mr.  R.  H.  Reid,  then  a  College 
and  Seminary  student  in  Columbia.  They  were  now  in  rela- 
tively narrow  circumstances.  Mr.  Reid's  people  seized  the  op- 
portunity to  do  them  a  kindly  service,  by  making  a  gift  of  home- 
spun for  clothing.  The  following  letter  from  Mrs.  Palmer  both 
notes  the  fact  and  throws  a  light  on  their  family  history  which 
justifies  its  insertion  here: 

"Bramwell   Courthouse,  April   18,   1863. 

"My  Dear  Friend  :  I  am  here  with  Fanny,  who  is  very  feeble,  hoping 
that  change  will  improve  her  health.  I  intended  to  have  written  to 
you  before  I  left  Columbia,  begging  you  to  thank  the  ladies  of  your 
congregation  who  were  kind  enough  to  send  me  the  homespun.  I  can 
assure  you  it  was  a  very  acceptable  present  and  I  have  made  up  the 
dresses  for  the  three  oldest  children  and  they  have  been  .very  much 
admired.  The  children  feel  quite  proud  to  wear  a  dress  spun  and 
woven  in  South  Carolina  and  they  mean  to  keep  them  as  mementos 
of  the  Civil  War. 

"I  am  glad  to  be  able  to  tell  you  that  Mr.  Hutson  is  in  better  health 


His  Course  During  the  War.  269 

than  he  has  been  and  I  hope  it  will  not  be  long  before  he  is  entirely 
well.    They  feel  the  death  of  their  little  boy  very  much. 

''I  expect  to  leave  this  place  for  Savannah  on  Monday  to  spend  a 
week  or  two.  I  was  obliged  to  leave  the  other  children  and  of  course 
I  will  not  stay  away  any  longer  than  I  am  obliged  to,  but  I  feel  it  to 
be  my  duty  to  do  everything  in  my  power  to  restore  Fanny's  health. 
Sometimes  I  fear  we  will  not  have  her  long,  she  looks  so  very  feeble. 
But  I  can  only  leave  her  in  the  hands  of  our  Father  in  heaven  who 
does  all  for  the  best. 

"If  we  were  keeping  house  I  would  insist  on  your  coming  down  to 
the  Assembly  and  bringing  Mrs.  Reid  and  the  children.  I  sigh  to  have 
a  home  of  my  own  once  more. 

"Give  a  great  deal  of  love  to  Mrs.  Reid  and  kiss  the  children  for  me, 
especially  my  namesake.  I  often  think  of  his  fat,  round  face.  I  will 
send  the  likeness  you  asked  for  some  of  these  days.  I  had  a  good 
many  in  New  Orleans  hke  the  one  you  saw  on  the  mantelpiece  at  moth- 
er's but  they  will  be  of  no  use  now. 

"Yours  very  truly, 

"M.  A.   Palmer." 

May,  1863,  the  General  Assembly  of  our  Church  met  in  Co- 
lumbia, S.  C.  Dr.  Palmer  was  a  member  of  the  body  and  the 
man  of  paramount  influence  in  it.  He  was  the  chairman  of 
many  important  committees  and  acquitted  himself  with  his 
usual  dignity  and  ability.  To  that  Assembly  came  the  news 
of  the  great  Stonewall  Jackson's  death,  of  whom  "it  has  been 
tersely  and  truthfully  and  therefore  beautifully  said,  that  in  the 
army  he  was  the  expression  of  his  country's  confidence  in  God 
and  in  itself."  Palmer's  hand  drafted  the  minute,  at  once  ex- 
quisite and  noble,  which  the  body  adopted  on  the  occasion.  He 
took  an  earnest  hand  in  the  conference  held  by  the  Assembly 
upon  the  subject  of  the  religious  wants  of  the  army.  Having 
offered  to  do  service  in  the  West,  on  his  own  charges,  if  he 
should  be  left  to  some  measure  of  discretion  as  to  the  length 
of  time,  he  was  made  a  Cbmmissioner  of  the  Assembly  to  the 
Army  of  Tennessee.  This  Assembly  also  elected  Dr.  Palmer 
to  fill  the  chair  of  Didactic  and  Polemic  Theology,  in  Columbia 
Seminary,  provisionally,  for  a  year.  A  party  would  have 
elected  him  without  conditions,  but  he  had  a  bodv  of  followers 
who  thought  of  New  Orleans  and  of  his  obligation  to  those 
people  in  case  the  way  should  be  opened  for  his  return.  From 
the  reports  of  the  debate  on  the  subject  it  is  clear  that  some 
members  of  the  Assembly  were  not  without  hope  that  the  Con- 
federate forces  would  again  soon  be  in  possession  of  the  place. 


270       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

Soon  after  the  adjournment  of  the  Assembly  he  is  found 
with  the  Army  of  Tennessee,  busy  in  the  distribution  of  Chris- 
tian literature,  and  in  preaching  the  Gospel  to  the  soldiers. 
About  the  first  of  July  he  was  called  home  to  minister  to  his 
eldest  daughter,  who  was  fast  sinking  to  the  grave. 

His  letters  to  her  show  how  much  he  had  hoped  of  her.  He 
would  have  seen  her  developed  by  the  education  of  a  man  as 
well  as  by  that  of  the  most  refined  woman.  But  already,  ere 
they  had  left  New  Orleans,  consumption  had  begun  to  prey 
upon  her.  While  in  the  public  schools  of  New  Orleans  she  de- 
veloped this  dreadful  disease.  Coming  away  from  New  Orle- 
ans, in  May,  1862,  with  a  cough,  she  had  grown  worse  in  Ha- 
zelhurst,  and  still  worse  after  their  removal  to  Columbia.  The 
father  had  been  thrown  into  great  mental  conflict  by  his  ap- 
pointment as  Commissioner  to  the  Army  of  Tennessee,  by  the 
General  Assembly  of  1863.  On  the  one  hand  he  had  despaired 
of  her  recovery ;  but  on  the  other,  he  thought  it  probable  that 
she  would  linger  many  months,  and  accordingly  resolved  to 
leave  her  with  her  mother  and  with  God.  The  parting  was 
agonizing  to  both  daughter  and  father.  She  uttered  only  one 
sentence,  "Father,  you  are  going  so  far;  and  I  am  so  ill," — 
a  sentence  which  was  to  keep  "ringing"  in  his  ears  amidst  the 
drums  and  cannon  of  the  camp,  a  sentence  which  occasioned 
his  asking  himself  daily  whether  God  did  indeed  require  him 
to  thus  add  to  the  afflictions  of  his  dying  child.  He  took  ad- 
vantage of  "the  confusion  of  the  retreat  from  Shelbyville  to 
run  home  and  look  upon  the  pale  face  once  more."  He  arrived 
in  the  early  morning  and  she  was  \  still  asleep.  Awaking  in  a 
few  moments,  she  "burst  into  tears,  and  said  twice,  *I  knew  he 
would  come,  I  knew  he  would  come.'  Just  as  a  ray  of  light 
illumines  a  dark  room,  so  this  one  exclamation  revealed  to  the 
father  what  for  weeks  had  been  passing  in  the  secret  chambers 
of  her  soul."  It  was  an  exclamation  so  full  of  love,  so  full 
of  trust,  that  he  bowed  his  head  "and  wept  like  a  woman."  He 
saw  that  her  end  was  very  near  and  gave  himself  to  attendance 
on  her  till  God  should  take  her.  On  Sabbath  evening,  July  12, 
he  had  a  beautiful  talk  with  her  about  death.  She  had  been 
a  sweet  Christian  for  years.  He  had  felt  that  she  was  ready 
to  go,  but  since  her  sickness  he  had  not  talked  to  her  of  her 
readiness  to  meet  God  lest  he  should  tend  thereby  to  defeat 
her  recovery.  Now  he  feels  that  the  end  is  so  near  that  he 
must  for  her  own  sweet  sake,  for  his  and  for  the  mother's,  ex- 


His  CbURSE  During  the  War.  271 

amine  her  grounds  of  hope.  The  conversation  may  be  read 
in  the  "Broken  Home"  ' — a  talk  very  comforting  to  both.  Four 
days  later  she  went  to  heaven ;  one  day  and  night  they  watched 
by  the  dust  so  precious  in  their  eyes;  and  Saturday,  July  19, 
1863,  they  laid  her  down  in  the  beautiful  cemetery  to  sleep  until 
the  trumpet's  call. 

"But  the  agony,"  he  afterwards  wrote,  "of  turning  away, 
and  leaving  her  alone — leaving  her  alone  whom  we  had  so 
tenderly  cherished,  that  no  wind  of  heaven  blew  roughly  upon 
her,  this,  O  God !  is  known  only  to  Thee  and  to  us.  But  we 
have  exceeding  comfort  in  this  loss.  We  have  no  misgivings 
as  to  her  eternal  happiness.  She  had  offered  while  in  life  and 
health  the  most  abundant  evidence  of  a  change  of  heart;  and 
during  her  long  illness,  as  she  had  often  said,  'This  world 
was  dead  to  her.'  The  apprehension  of  death  which  she  ex- 
pressed arose  from  constitutional  timidity,  which  was  sunk 
at  last  in  a  calm,  clear  trust  in  her  Redeemer— except  as  she 
dreaded  its  physical  pangs,  which,  thanks  to  God,  she  was  mer- 
cifully spared. 

"Besides  all  this,  she  has  left  behind  a  most  precious  memory. 
I  cannot  say  all  that  I  could,  lest  I  should  be  deemed  extrava- 
gant ;  or  at  least,  lie  open  to  the  suspicion  that,  as  death  throws 
a  halo  over  the  departed,  I  am  under  the  spell  of  a  fond  and  de- 
lusive affection.  Yet  I  have  said  of  her,  long  before  this  sad 
bereavement,  since  she  was  twelve  years  of  age  I  could  find 
nothing  in  her  to  amend.  Watching  over  her  with  a  parent's 
anxiety  to  mould  her  character  aright,  there  was  nothing  to 
correct.  She  has  left  a  memory  in  which  there  is  nothing  we 
would  desire  changed;  as  we  travel  over  it  in  thought,  every 
spot  is  green  and  lovely  to  the  eye.  I  had  learned  to  reverence 
her.  The  attributes  which  she  displayed  were  so  beautiful 
that  I,  who  sought  to  shape  and  guide  her  aright,  was  often 
reproved  by  virtue  superior  to  mine  own.  Strange  that  we  did 
not  see  through  all  those  years  that  God  was  secretly  educating 
her  for  himself;  and  when  she  was  ripe,  she  was  plucked  to 
be  with  him.  Her  memory  is  a  sweet  and  an  awful  thing  to  us. 
We  think  of  her  not  as  dead,  but  as  translated  to  be  with 
Christ.    Our  lovely  flower  bloomed  awhile  on  its  earthly  stem, 

and  then 

'She  was  exhaled — ^her  Creator  drew 
Her  spirit,  as  the  sun  the  morning  dew/* 

'  Pp.  35-38.       •  Broken  Home,  pp.  47-40. 


272       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

The  First  Qiurch  of  Columbia  had  become  vacant  in  June, 
1863,  by  the  resignation  of  the  pastorate  by  the  Rev.  F.  P. 
MuUally.  Dr.  Palmer  was  asked  to  supply  the  church,  which 
he  gladly  did  during  such  periods  as  he  was  in  Columbia  to 
the  end  of  the  war.  The  number  of  new  briefs  made  in  these 
months  attest  the  fact  that  he  still  preserved  his  habits  of  hard, 
steady  and  efficient  labor  over  the  Word  of  God. 

When  the  term-time  in  Columbia  Seminary  came  to  hand, 
he  gave  himself  also  to  the  performance  of  his  professorial 
duties  and  the  numerous  calls  for  occasional  services  which 
came  to  him. 

"Occupying  the  chair  of  Theology  only  provisionally,"  he 
writes,  at  the  close  of  the  session  18(53-1864,  "I  have  not  felt 
at  liberty  to  depart  from  the  method  of  instruction  presented  by 
my  predecessor — ^which  was  to  combine  the  two  upper  classes, 
and  to  carry  them  over  the  entire  course  in  two  years. 
During  the  past  two  sessions,  these  classes  have  been  conducted, 
accordingly,  through  the  whole  of  Theology,  extending  the  last 
year,  from  the  beginning  to  the  application  of  the  scheme  of 
Redemption.  The  leading  text-book  has  been  the  "Institutes" 
of  Calvin — ^the  students  being  required  to  examine,  in  connec- 
tion with  it,  the  works  of  Turretin,  of  Principal  Hill,  and  of 
Dick, — ^and  the  free  use  also  of  Hodge's  "Outline  of  Theology," 
which  has  been  very  profitable  in  mapping  out  the  special  top- 
ics for  investigation.  The  manuscript  lectures  of  Dr.  Thorn- 
well  being  fortunately  in  my  possession  have  also  been  read 
to  the  classes,  and  enlarged  upon  in  oral  explanation.  These, 
with  partial  lectures  of  my  own,  on  topics  not  embraced  in 
the  scheme  of  Dr.  Thornwell,  have  supplemented  the  course 
of  instruction  in  this  department. 

"The  lectures  delivered  last  year,  on  the  Evidences,  have 
not  been  repeated  this  year,  owing  simply  to  the  fact,  that  the 
Junior  Gass  has,  at  no  period  of  the  year,  been  exactly  organ- 
ized, and  also  to  the  fact  that  the  only  permanent  member  of 
this  class  has  been  disabled  by  physical  infirmity  from  the  full 
prosecution  of  his  studies.  No  class,  however,  has  been  per- 
mitted to  leave  the  Seminary  without  going  carefully  through 
this  branch  of  theological  training  and  the  deficiency  of  the 
past  year  may  be  easily  retrieved  by  a  combination  of  the 
classes  during  the  next  session."  • 

•From  Dr.  Palmer's  Report  as  Professor  in  Columbia  Seminary 
to  the  General  Assembly,  1864,  a.d.,  p.  299. 


His  Course  During  the  War.  273 

In  April,  1864,  Dr.  Palmer  was  calkd  upon  by  the  ladies  of 
South  Carolina  to  deliver  an  address  of  welcome  to  the  "Sol- 
diers of  the  Legion  and  Gentlemen  of  the  Army,"  who,  after 
an  absence  of  three  years,  had  returned  to  their  native  State. 
The  address  was  afterwards  published  in  The  Daily  Southern 
Guardian.  It  is  an  elegant  and  gracious  welcome,  accompanied 
by  an  attempt  at  an  expose  of  the  conditions  of  American  civ- 
ilization, the  meaning  of  the  great  struggle  in  which  they  were 
engaged,  and  the  grounds  on  which  the  South  still  had  the 
right  to  hope  for  success.  It  brought  with  it  a  confession  that 
he  sometimes  wished  it  was  his  to  bear  arms.  Turning  to 
General  Wade  Hampton,  who  sat  on  the  platform  with  him, 
he  said: 

"The  day  will  come  when  that  blade  which  gleams  so  brightly  by 
your  side  in  the  hour  of  battle  will  hang  as  a  relic  upon  your  ancestral 
walls,  and  there  will  come  forth  some  fair  haired  urchin  who,  as  he 
takes  it  down  and  draws  the  rusty  blade  from  its  scabbard,  will  say, 
'This  was  the  sword  with  which  my  great-grandfather  passed  through 
many  battles  of  the  Revolution  of  i860  and  '64.*  Mark  you,  he  will 
not  call  it  'the  great  rebellion,'  as  neither  you  nor  I  do,  but  a  mighty 
and  stupendous  revolution,  which  gave  freedom  to  our  land.  At  the 
same  time  there  may  be  a  flaxen  haired  girl  who,  as  she  turns  over 
the  old  pages  of  her  family  history  and  her  eye  falls  upon  the  name 
of  'Hampton,'  will  call  to  her  remembrance  a  family  tradition,  that 
on  a  certain  April  day  seventy-five  or  eighty  years  ago,  her  great-grand- 
father pinned  the  emblem  of  South  Carolina  and  the  Confederacy 
as  near  as  he  could  over  General  Hampton's  heart 

[Suiting  the  action  to  the  word  the  speaker  advanced  to 
General  Hampton,  and  with  a  grace  that  cannot  be  described 
in  language,  attached  to  his  breast  an  exquisite  Palmetto  badge 
interwoven  with  a  miniature  Confederate  flag.  There  was 
scarcely  a  dry  eye  in  the  vast  audience,  and  the  brave  soldier 
himself  could  not  restrain  the  tears,  which  the  act  and  its 
associations  involuntarily  called  forth.] 

"And  now  General,"  resumed  Dr.  Palmer,  "this  is  a  secret  which 
neither  you  nor  your  honored  lady  must  ask  to  be  revealed.  A  daughter 
of  Carolina  pins  that  symbol  of  the  State  and  of  the  Confederacy  on 
your  heart.  I  have  only  to  say  in  the  name  of  the  fair  lady,  see  to  it 
that  South  Carolina  and  the  Confederacy  are  saved;  and  [turning  to 
the  concourse]  I  now  point  you  ladies  of  South  Carolina  to  the  Chev- 
18 


274       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

alier  Bayard  of  the  South — ^the  chivalric  knight,  'without  fear  and  with- 
out reproach.'"" 

He  had  found  time,  during  the  early  part  of  the  year  1864, 
also  to  oppose  the  union  between  the  Church  of  which  he  was 
such  a  distinguished  representative  and  the  United  S3niod  of 
the  South.  It  will  be  recalled  that  in  1838  a  split  culminated 
between  the  two  parties,  New  and  Old  School,  in  the  Presby- 
terian Church  in  the  United  States  of  America.  The  New 
School  party  in  that  year  withdrew  and  established  itself  as 
an  independent  church.  It  is  a  fact  that  the  New  School  party 
had  embraced  many  in  it  who  cared  little  either  for  a  thor- 
ough-going Presbyterian  polity  or  for  sound  Calvinism.  The 
New  School  party  and  the  New  School  Church  must  lie  under 
the  charge  of  latitudinarianism  in  doctrine  and  polity.  While 
this  must  be  conceded  it  is  also  true  that  not  a  few  went  with 
the  New  School  party,  at  the  time  of  the  split,  who  had  no 
considerable  sympathy  with  these  forms  of  laxity.  These  per- 
sons had  taken  umbrage  at  the  exscinding  acts  passed  by  the 
Assembly  of  1837,  an  Assembly  in  which  an  Old  School  ma- 
jority and  Old  School  measures  prevailed.  To  put  the  matter 
in  their  own  way:  they  held  that  "no  judicatory  of  the  Church, 
can  for  any  cause,  by  an  act  of  legislation,  constitutionally  con- 
demn or  exclude  from  the  Church,  ministers  or  private  mem- 
bers, without  a  process  of  trial,  such  as  is  prescribed  in  the 
Constitution  of  the  Presbyterian  Church."  They  accordingly 
went  out  with  the  New  School  men  and  helped  to  form  the 
new  body. 

The  New  School  Church  soon  developed  a  strong  tendency 
toward  the  handling  of  political  questions  in  its  courts.     In 
particular,  it  developed  a  strong  anti-slavery  party,  and  at- 
tempted to  discipline  Southern  slaveholders  as  such.    The  re- 
sult of  this  departure  was  the  split  of  i8s7-'8,  which  resulted 
in  the  establishment  of  the  Synod  of  the  South.     This  body 
was  now  about  to  be  taken  into  union  with  the  Presb)rterian 
^yChurch  of  the  Confederate  States.    It  was,  in  genesis,  a  por- 
!  tion  of  the  party  that  had  been  guilty  of  the  toleration  of  Hop- 
)  kinsianism,  Taylorism,  and  other  New   England  theological 
A"  fads :  it  had  shown  indifference  to  a  sound  Presbyterian  polity. 
The  Synod  of  the  South  had  never  formally  repudiated  these 

"Copied  from  The  Daily  Southern  Guardian,  Columbia,  S.  C,  June 
10,  1864:  "Dr.  Palmer's  Address." 


His  Course  During  the  War. 


275 


errors  up  to  1863.  Dr.  Palmer  was  fully  alive  to  these  and 
other  such  uncomfortable  facts. 

In  the  year  1863,  however,  committees  had  been  appointed 
by  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  in  the 
Confederate  States  and  the  Synod  of  the  South,  respectively, 
to  confer  as  to  terms  of  union.  These  committees  had  met  and, 
after  conferring  jointly  had  agreed  to  propose  to  their  respec- 
tive bodies  a  "Basis  of  Union."  The  "Basis  of  Union"  was 
published  and  speedily  met  the  general  approval.  Dr.  Palmer 
was  not  so  easily  satisfied.  He  regarded,  and  properly,  the 
exscinding  acts  as  a  piece  of  blessed  surgery,  necessary  to 
the  preservation  of  Bible  Presbyterianism  in  the  great  body 
on  which  the  operations  were  performed;  he  had  little  sym- 
pathy with  those  who,  because  they  had  more  sorrow  for  the 
excision  of  the  offending  synods  than  they  had  love  for  the 
truths  of  God  which  these  synods  were  trampling  into  the  mire, 
went  out  with  them.  He  knew  that  the  Synod  of  the  South 
had  in  it  one  man  of  views  out  of  accord  with  our  Confession, 
that  his  brethren  had  elected  this  man  to  a  chair  in  the  sem- 
inary which  they  proposed  to  establish,  and  that,  only  a  year 
or  so  before,  this  man  had  claimed  to  have  the  support  of  his 
brethren  in  some  of  his  non-confessional  views. 

In  the  April  number  of  the  Southern  Presbyterian  Review, 
1864,  Dr.  Palmer  appeared  in  an  article  of  forty-two  pages  on 
"The  Proposed  Plan  of  Union  between  the  General  Assembly 
in  the  Confederate  States  of  America  and  the  United  S3niod  of 
the  South."  In  the  most  knightly  way  he  dealt  with  the  de- 
fects of  the  Synod  of  the  South  and  with  the  Basis  of  Union, 
giving  to  the  latter  the  most  searching  and  effective  criticism 
which  it  met  with.  By  skillfully  interpreting  the  "Basis  of  Un- 
ion" in  the  light  of  published  writings  of  the  Rev.  Dr.  A.  H.  H. 
Boyd,  of  Winchester,  Va.,  the  great  representative  of  the  New 
School  theology  in  the  Synod  of  the  South,  he  made  it  to  ap- 
pear a  very  doubtful  thing. 

When  the  General  Assembly  convened,  in  Charlotte,  N.  C, 
in  May,  1864,  Dr.  Palmer  was  a  member  of  the  body  and 
along  with  Dr.  Adger,  of  Columbia,  gave  expression  to  his 
opposition  to  the  movement  in  the  form  in  which  it  was  be- 
ing carried  on.  His  speech  in  opposition  was  described  as  "ele- 
gant in  style  and  in  a  good  spirit."  He  began  by  expressing 
his  admiration  of  unity,  but  his  conviction  that  "charity  moves 
on  the  poles  of  truth."    He  asked  whether  the  two  bodies  were 


J 


276       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

sufficiently  agreed  as  to  be  able  to  live  together  in  harmony. 
He  asserted  that  he  did  not  confide  in  the  United  Body,  be- 
cause: (i)  They  did  not  at  the  time  of  the  separation  of  the 
Old  and  New  School  sympathize  with  the  General  Assembly 
in  its  efforts  to  maintain  the  truth.  (2)  The  testimony  con- 
cerning them  is  conflicting.  Some  assert  their  soundness ;  but 
others  with  equal  positiveness  their  unsoundness.  (3)  They 
seem  never  to  have  made  a  clear  and  unreserved  subscription 
to  the  Standards.  He  doubted,  moreover,  the  constitutional 
right  of  the  Assembly  to  take  in  the  body  in  the  way  proposed, 
which  would  make  the  "Basis  of  Union"  a  part,  and  a  para- 
mount part,  of  the  Standards  of  the  body  resulting  from  the 
union.  He  would  not  express  himself  as  unalterably  opposed 
to  it  provided  safe  grounds  of  union  could  be  found — grounds 
such  as  would  save  our  Standards  intact.*^ 

The  truth  is  that  there  were  three  unsound  men  in  the  New 
School  body  in  1864.  One  of  these.  Dr.  A.  H.  H.  Boyd,  was  a 
man  of  brains  and  character.  His  writings  had  greatly  im- 
pressed Dr.  Palmer.  Had  Dr.  Boyd  been  a  true  representative 
of  his  Church  in  the  matter  of  theology,  Dr.  Palmer  had  been 
right  in  his  attitude.  But  Dr.  Boyd  had  no  following  in  his 
theological  views,  and  only  two  known  sympathizers.  The 
Virginia  men  in  the  Assembly,  with  Dr.  Dabney  in  the  lead, 
knew  the  ministers  and  elders  of  the  Synod  of  the  South  well, 
the  members  of  that  body  being  found  mostly  in  Virginia, 
vTennessee  and  North  Mississippi.  The  project  for  union  after 
the  modifications,  the  chief  of  which  provided  for  uniting 
"on  the  basis  of  our  existing  standards  only,"  carried  over- 
whelmingly. 

,^  It  is  not  known  that  Dr.  Palmer  ever  on  the  one  hand  re- 
gretted his  stand  on  this  important  subject,  or  on  the  other, 
ever  saw  occasion  to  regret  the  action  of  the  Church. 

To  this  Assembly  Dr.  Palmer  made  a  very  modest  report  of 

/   his  services  during  the  preceding  year  as  Commissioner  to  the 

l^  Army  of  Tennessee. 

He  said  his  connection  with  the  army  was  very  brief  and 
as  a  commissioner  amounted  to  very  little ;  that  if  he  had  done 
any  good  it  was  by  preaching  to  the  soldiers;  that  he  had 
preached  in  all  the  brigades  and  nearly  all  the  regiments  of 
one  corps  of  the  Army  of  Tennessee,  while  it  was  encamped 

"  Central  Presbyterian,  June  2,  1864,  Report  of  the  General  Assembly. 


His  Course  During  the  War.  277 

around  Shelbyville;  that  when  the  army  fell  back  to  Chatta- 
nooga, finding  that  he  could  do  nothing,  he  went  home  just  in 
time  to  go  with  a  beloved  daughter,  as  far  as  the  living  are 
permitted  to  go  down  into  the  valley  and  shadow  of  death; 
that  he  had  been  much  impressed  by  the  greatness  of  the  work 
God  was  carrying  on  among  our  troops ;  that  it  had  no  parallel 
in  the  history  of  the  world;  and  that  he  regarded  it  as  a  spe- 
cial sign  hung  out  from  the  throne  of  God,  of  his  favor  to 
our  people. 

This  Assembly  made  Dr.  Palmer  Provisional  Professor  of 
Didactic  and  Polemic  Theology  again  for  the  year  1864-1865. 

From  the  Assembly  he  returned  to  Columbia  and  continued 
to  supply  the  pulpit  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church. 

In  his  absence  he  yearned  for  his  people  in  New  Orleans, 
that  he  might  be  comforted  together  with  them  by  the  mutual 
faith  of  them  and  him.  For  fear  of  increasing  their  political 
troubles  he  long  refrained  from  writing  to  them;  but  at 
length  the  pent  up  floods  of  yearning  burst  forth  in  the  fol- 
lowing letter: 


U 


Columbia,  S.   C,  May  20,   1864. 
To  my  companions  in  sorrow  and  in  the  fellowship  of  Jesus,  the  mem- 

hers  of  the  First  Presbyterian  Church  and  Congregation  in  the  City 

of  New  Orleans: 

"Dearly  beloved  Brethren:  Two  entire  years  have  elapsed  since 
I  departed  from  you,  expecting  in  three  weeks  to  return  to  my  pastoral 
work.  Some  of  you  will  perhaps  recall  the  sadness  of  my  last  dis- 
course, just  before  we  sat  down  together  around  the  table  of  our  dying 
Lord;  for  which  I  was  playfully  rallied  by  several,  as  though  I  had 
preached  under  a,  heavy  presentiment  of  evil.  It  was,  however,  not 
exactly  so.  I  only  knew  that  the  times  were  exceedingly  disjointed, 
and  that  I  was  to  be  absent  for  a  season.  No  one  could  foresee  what  a 
day  might  bring  forth:  and  under  this  general  feeling  of  uncertainty, 
I  uttered  the  words  which  now  seem  as  though  they  were  an  uncon- 
scious prophecy  of  a  long  farewell.  How  little  did  I  then  anticipate  the 
dreadful  catastrophe  which  prevented  my  return;  and  which,  from  that 
day  to  this,  has  cast  me  forth  a  wanderer  upon  the  face  of  the  earth ! 
But  your  lot  has  been  harder  even  than  my  own :  and  often,  oh !  how 
often,  has  my  heart  yearned  to  commune  with  you,  and  to  pour  forth 
the  feelings  with  which  it  has  been  burdened !  One  fear  has,  however, 
always  restrained  me — ^that  of  compromising  you  and  of  exposing  the 
Church  to  severer  afflictions,  if  my  letters  should  unfortunately  be 
intercepted.  Nothing  but  this  has  prevented  me  from  frequently  at- 
tempting to  strengthen  your  faith  in  these  dark  and  bitter  days,  and 
to  bring  to  those  who  mourn  amongst  you  the  consolations  of  God. 


278       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

It  has  been  a  great  trial  to  me,  to  be  compelled  thus  to  lock  up  within 
my  own  breast  the  affection  which  yearned  to  flow  forth  freely  to  you. 
But  I  could  not  bring  myself  to  run  the  hazard  of  increasing  your  bur- 
dens for  my  own  g^tification.  I  am  at  length  weary  of  forebearing. 
The  fire  which  has  been  so  long  shut  up  in  my  bones  will  burst  forth, 
and  I  now  commit  this  sheet  into  the  hands  of  Him  who  holds  even  the 
winds  in  his  fist,  praying  him  to  give  a  safe  direction,  and  to  make 
it  only  a  source  of  comfort  to  those  to  whom  it  is  addressed. 

"Whilst  denying  myself  the  pleasure  of  communion  with  you,  I 
have  sought  compensation  by  indulging  the  visions  of  fancy  which  viv- 
idly represented  scenes  once  so  familiar  to  me.  Sometimes,  I  surround 
myself  with  my  books,  which  again  seem  to  look  down,  like  old  and 
intimate  friends,  from  their  cases  in  my  study.  Then  I  transfer  myself 
to  the  dear  old  pulpit,  which  I  had  learned  to  reverence,  as  a  king 
his  throne.  It  has  required  little  imagination  to  people  the  pews  with 
their  old  occupants;  and  thus  to  reproduce,  one  by  one,  the  families 
of  my  own  happy  charge,  just  as  they  were  accustomed  to  sit  down 
the  long-drawn  aisles  of  that  grand  and  beautiful  sanctuary.  The  dear 
children  of  the  flock  were  daguerreotyped  before  me,  exactly  as  I 
was  wont  to  see  them  gathered  into  classes  in  the  Sabbath-school. 
When  weary  of  the  large  assembly,  it  needed  only  the  waving  of  the 
wand  to  remand  all  to  their  several  homes:  and  I  would  find  myself 
now  treading  the  familiar  streets  of  our  city,  house  after  house  rising 
up  before  the  mind  just  as  of  yore  when  my  hand  was  upon  each  door- 
bell. The  very  furniture  of  a  hundred  dwellings  has  revolved  before 
me  in  the  ceaseless  panorama — even  to  the  beds  beside  which  I  have 
sat  and  knelt  in  my  visits  as  'a  son  of  consolation'  to  the  sick  and  dy- 
ing saint.  Thus  has  memory  traveled  again  and  again  over  the  past; 
and  in  silent  thought,  I  have  held  converse  with  many  whom  common 
suffering  has  drawn  nearer  than  ever  to  my  heart.  From  these  reveries 
I  would  be  startled  by  the  sickening  thought,  'all  this  is  of  the  past, 
and  the  past  can  never  be  again;'  while  this  distrust  would  in  its  turn 
be  drowned  in  pleasing  anticipations  of  a  happy  restoration  to  you, 
and  fancy  has  pictured  a  thousand  faces,  radiant  with  patriotic  joy, 
bidding  me  welcome  to  church  and  pulpit,  and  strange  emotions  have 
filled  my  bosom  in  thinking  of  the  first  sermon  I  should  preach  in  my 
own  church  and  to  my  own  people.  Thus  I  have  amused  the  hours  of 
my  weary  exile,  finding  in  these  exhilarating  anticipations  a  prophecy 
of  bright  and  happy  days  yet  before  us.  Those  days  will  certainly 
come :  may  God  keep  your  faith  and  mine  alive,  to  watch  for  the  early 
dawn! 

"A  kind  Providence  has  directed  all  my  steps  since  I  have  been 
driven  from  my  home.  The  extreme  illness  of  my  wife's  mother 
brought  us  unexpectedly  to  Carolina.  It  pleased  God,  within  two  weeks 
afterward,  to  remove  to  heaven  my  beloved  friend  and  brother,  the 
Rev.  Dr.  Thornwell,  who  was  buried  amidst  the  deep  lamentations  of 


His  Course  During  the  War.  279 

the  countxy  and  of  the  Giurch.  His  vacant  chair  in  the  School  of  the 
Prophets  was  immediately  tendered  to  me;  which  has,  for  two  years, 
furnished  me  with  work  and  with  bread.  During  the  past  twelvemonth 
a  vacancy  having  occurred  in  the  pastorate  of  the  G>lumbia  Church, 
I  was  summoned  by  the  voice  of  my  old  charge  to  resume  the  duties 
of  the  pulpit  I  have  accordingly  filled  to  the  best  of  my  ability,  the 
double  office  of  a  professor  and  of  a  pastor :  which  I  shall  probably  con- 
tinue to  do,  provisionally,,  until  the  way  is  open  for  my  return  to  you. 
It  may  not  be  amiss  to  state  that  earnest  efforts  have  been  made  by 
my  personal  friends  to  induce  me  to  settle  again  permanently  in  the 
land  of  my  birth,  rendered  now  doubly  sacred  to  me  as  holding  in  its 
bosom  my  precious  dead.  It  has  been  argued  that,  after  the  stupendous 
changes  of  the  past  two  years  New  Orleans  can  never  be  to  me  what 
it  once  was,  and  it  has  been  significantly  suggested  that  possibly  I 
may  not  hold  the  same  place  in  your  affections  as  formerly.  Of  course, 
as  to  these  things  I  must  remain,  for  some  time,  in  profoundest  ignor- 
ance. But  my  purpose  is  unalterably  formed  to  decline  every  proposal 
from  every  quarter  until  I  can  once  more  meet  with  you.  The  ties 
which  bind  me  to  New  Orleans  are  not  only  those  of  affection,  but  of 
honor.  The  present  is  the  hour  of  trial  to  you,  in  which  I  am  incapa- 
ble of  anything  that  looks  like  desertion.  You  are  entitled,  upon  every 
ground,  to  the  refusal  of  my  future  labors.  My  desire  and  expectation 
is  to  return  and  gather  up  the  fragments  of  our  scattered  congregation, 
and  to  share  with  them  the  poverty  to  which  we  will  be  reduced  to- 
gether. If  it  pleases  you,  I  have  no  wish  but  to  enter  with  you  upon 
a  new  career  of  glorious  trial  for  our  blessed  Master: — ^and  it  must 
be  from  your  lips  I  must  learn,  that  God  has  any  other  destination 
for  me  than  to  build  up  our  wasted  Zion  in  the  midst  of  yourselves. 
Until  we  can  meet  face  to  face,  I  shall  continue  to  hold  myself  free 
from  all  entanglements — leaving  the  future  entirely  in  the  hands  of  God. 
**You  have  doubtless  heard  indirectly  of  the  bereavement  we  have 
sustained  in  the  death  of  our  eldest  daughter.  Almost  immediately 
upon  leaving  New  Orleans,  the  symptoms  of  her  fatal  malady  began  to 
appear — exciting  little  apprehension  at  the  first,  but  eventually  pro- 
ducing alarm  from  the  obstinacy  with  which  they  refused  to  yield  to 
the  most  skilful  medical  treatment  we  could  procure.  At  length  after 
many  fluctuations  protracted  through  fourteen  months,  her  delicate 
frame  succumbed  beneath  the  insidious  destroyer  and  in  July  last  we 
laid  her  precious  form  beneath  the  sod,  where  the  quietly  flowing  waters 
of  the  beautiful  Saluda  chant  a  perpetual  requiem  over  the  dead  who 
sleep  in  the  peaceful  cemetery  of  Elmwood.  Ah  I  there  are  those  among 
you  who  know  with  what  an  edge  a  sorrow  like  this  cuts,  down  to 
the  very  quick.  It  is  enough  to  say  that  she  was  very  dear,  and  yet 
she  was  taken.  'Even  so,  Father,  for  so  it  seemed  good  in  thy  sight!' 
We  bow  before  that  sovereign  will,  which  we  would  not  dispute,  even 
if  we  could.    She  has  gone  up  to  be  with  the  immortals ;  and  our  faith 


28o       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

watched  her  in  that  splendid  flight,  till  she  stood  before  the  throne. 
We  have  had  no  wish  to  call  her  back,  and  have  since  solaced  ourselves 
with  a  memory  which  is  as  green  to  us  as  the  Garden  of  Eden.  It  is 
not  fit  perhaps  that  I  should  pour  forth  in  this  sheet  the  private  sorrows 
of  a  parent's  heart:  but  when  I  have  heard  of  like  afflictions  which 
have  befallen  you,  I  have  held  communion  with  my  own  grief,  and  then 
have  wept  for  you.  Ever  and  anon  the  tidings  have  reached  me  of 
the  breaches  death  has  made  in  some  of  your  households.  Here  a 
beloved  mother  has  been  taken  up  to  her  rest  in  the  Savior's  bosom; 
there,  a  daughter  and  a  sister  has  dropped  out  of  the  family  circle; 
while  the  echoes  of  the  distant  battlefield  bring  to  others  the  sad  report 
of  sons  and  brothers  who  sleep  forever  in  the  graves  of  the  martyrs. 
Scarce  a  family  amongst  you,  that  does  not  .whisper  its  secret  grief 
around  the  evening  hearth;  whilst  I  am  denied  the  poor  privilege  of 
mingling  my  tears  with  yours,  and  of  lifting  the  voice  of  prayer  in 
those  dismantled  homes !  It  has  been  a  solace,  however,  in  the  solitude 
of  my  own  sorrow  to  think  of  all  these  distant  mourners,  and  to  find 
my  own  soul  knit  to  theirs  in  the  grief  that  has  been  common  to  me 
and  to  them.  'May  the  God  of  all  consolation  fill  us  both  with  peace 
in  believing,  that  we  may  abound  in  hope  through  the  power  of  the 
Holy  Ghost!' 

'It  is  time,  however,  to  put  aside  these  merely  personal  allusions. 
You  have  been  called,  beloved  friends,  to  endure  heavy  and  very  pecul- 
iar trials.  It  is  not  prudent,  perhaps,  to  indulge  in  anything  but  this 
most  general  reference  to  them.  They  are  such,  however,  as  do  not 
fall  once  in  a  century  upon  any  people,  and  generation  may  succeed 
generation  before  similar  sufferings  will  be  experienced  again.  There 
is  undoubtedly  a  meaning  of  most  solemn  significance  in  all  this,  which 
we  must  strive  to  understand.  At  present,  we  may  not  be  able  fully 
to  do  so.  Providence  is  always  hard  to  be  interpreted,  when  we  are 
in  the  very  current  of  events,  drifting  and  whirling  us  along  too  rapidly 
for  the  comparison  and  thought  which  are  necessary  to  scan  the  mys- 
terious cipher  in  which  God  writes  his  will  upon  the  page  of  human 
history.  But  an  interpretation  there  is:  by  and  by,  when  we  can  look 
leisurely  back  upon  these  tangled  and  perplexed  scenes,  we  shall  better 
understand  that  it  has  been  throughout  a  discipline  of  love,  and  not  of 
wrath.  At  present,  all  we  can  hope  to  achieve  is  to  have  our  hearts 
in  proper  temper,  and  with  a  chastened  will  to  bow  before  the  majesty 
of  him  who  does  his  pleasure  among  the  armies  in  heaven  and  the 
inhabitants  of  earth.  This  is  the  first  great  end  of  chastisement:  when 
our  spirits  are  humbled  and  submissive  before  him,  then  will  come  the 
unsealing  of  the  vision.  'What  we  know  not  now,  we  shall  know  here- 
after.* I  have  a  most  profound  conviction  that  God  is  specially  vindi- 
cating his  own  supremacy,  as  the  Ruler  among  the  nations.  This  con- 
viction fills  me  with  awe.  God's  footsteps  are  to  be  seen  in  all  the  grand 
march  of  history:  but  there  are  special  epochs  when  he  discloses  his 


His  Course  During  the  War.  281 

terrible  majesty  and  reveals  the  title  which  is  written  upon  his  vesture, 
'the  King  of  kings  and  Lord  of  lords.*  We  have  not  yet  come  to  the 
end  of  this  wonderful  drama — ^but  the  closing  act  is  not  far  off  which 
shall  give  the  moral  of  the  whole.  We  shall  then  understand  what 
is  now  partially  hidden  from  our  eyes;  and  will  perhaps  says,  'true  and 
righteous  are  thy  ways,  Lord  God  Almighty  I*  We  have  only  to  believe, 
and  to  Tvait.  I  find  myself  embarrassed  from  the  necessity  imposed 
upon  me  of  writing  obscurely  and  in  parable.  But  surely,  if  justice 
and  judgment  be  the  habitation  of  God's  throne,  the  souls  of  them  that 
are  slain  will  not  cry  unheard  from  under  the  altar.  It  is  a  hard  trial 
of  our  faith  and  patience;  but,  brethren,  it  were  better  to  die  than  to 
lose  our  confidence  in  that  divine  Father  who  leads  us  by  dark  and 
slippery  paths  indeed,  but  always  to  seats  of  honor  and  of  bliss.  For 
myself,  I  have  never  wavered  for  an  instant,  in  the  trust  I  have  reposed 
in  the  God  of  our  salvation.  You  have  only  to  recall  the  testimonies 
which  I  have  delivered  to  you  of  old,  to  know  all  that  I  would  say  to 
you  now. 

"But  in  the  midst  of  these  distresses,  how  precious  is  the  thought  that 
this  poor  world  is  not  our  final  home !  Its  vexations  and  cares  are  only 
the  methods  by  which  God  trains  us  for  the  world  of  light  and  love 
on  high.  Our  school  days  will  soon  be  over,  and  we  shall  escape 
forever  from  all  this  hard,  but  necessary,  discipline.  When  we  stand 
upon  those  heavenly  heights,  we  will  look  back  with  wonder  that  we 
made  so  much  of  the  sorrow  that  endureth  only  for  a  night.  We  shall 
see  so  much  of  a  Father's  love  in  those  very  pains  which  once  distressed 
us,  that  they  will  become  materials  of  our  song.  This  shall  be  our 
compensation — ^that  for  every  pang  felt  on  earth,  we  shall  have  a  new 
pulse  added  to  our  joy.  Can  we  not  afford  to  bear  all  that  sorrow 
which  God  so  sanctifies  and  sweetens  even  here  on  earth,  when  we 
think  that  it  accumulates  a  store  of  enjoyment  for  us  in  heaven? 
Oh,  the  depths  of  the  mystery  of  grace!  which  can  thus  transform  our 
sorrow  into  joy,  and  convert  our  very  sobs  into  hallelujahs  of  praise! 
When  I  think  of  this,  I  reverse  all  my  judgments  and  exclaim,  Blessed 
are  they  that  suffer!  Blessed  will  be  they  who  come  out  of  great 
tribulation!  God's  own  hand  will  wipe  away  all  their  tears,  and  they 
will  dwell  so  joyfully  in  the  sunlight  of  their  Father's  smile.  'Where- 
fore, comfort  ye  one  another  with  these  words.' 

"But  I  must  hasten  to  a  close.  It  would  be  easy  to  fill  this  page 
with  individual  names  to  whom  I  desire  to  convey  my  love.  They  are 
easily  recalled,  but  it  is  more  prudent  to  suppress  the  record.  Let 
each  individual  whose  eye  may  fall  upon  these  sheets  regard  them  as 
sent  particularly  to  him  and  to  her.  The  day,  I  hope,  is  not  far  distant 
when  we  may  speak  face  to  face.  Till  then  we  must  learn  to  'possess 
our  souls  in  patience.'  Surely  after  this  long  and  gloomy  separation, 
the  Gospel  will  be  both  preached  and  heard  as  it  never  was  before. 
I  pray  God,  if  I  am  permitted  to  return,  I  may  'come  to  you  in  the  ful- 


282       Life  and  Letters  of  Benjamin  M.  Palmer. 

ness  of  the  blessing  of  the  Gospel  of  Christ'  And  now,  beloved  breth- 
ren, *to  Him  that  is  able  to  keep  you  from  falling,  and  to  present  you 
faultless  before  the  presence  of  his  glory  with  exceeding  joy, — to  the 
only  wise  God  our  Savior,*  I  commend  you:  'praying  night  and  day 
exceedingly,  that  I  might  see  your  face  and  might  perfect  that  which 
is  lacking  in  your  faith,  and  that  God  himself  and  our  Father  and  the 
Lord  Jesus  Christ  may  direct  my  way  unto  you!' 

"Ever  truly  yours  in  the  Gospel  of  Jesus, 

"B.  M.  Palmer." 

A  characteristic  letter  df  this  period  is  the  following  to  Miss 
Anna  Jennings,  granddaughter  of  Mr.  Alfred  Hennen,  who 
was  a  distinguished  member  of  the  Louisiana  Bar  and  a  vefy 
valued  member  of  the  session  of  Dr.  Palmer's  church  in  New 
Orleans : 

"Columbia,  S.  C,  July  28,  1864. 

"My  Dear  'Daughter'  Anna:  Have  I  forfeited  my  right  to  address 
you  thus  by  cold  neglect?  I  must  remit  you  for  the  explanation  of  all 
this  to  the  letter  I  have  just  written  to  your  mother,  so  as  not  to  oc- 
cupy this  sheet  with  a  twice-told  tale :  and  now  let  me  kiss  those  pout- 
ing lips,  and  be  forgiven.  When,  in  my  first  letter,  I  ventured  upon 
this  endearing  title,  it  was  not  exactly  by  accident,  though  the  word 
did  leap  from  my  pen  without  premeditation.  Still  less  was  it  a  trick 
of  rhetoric  to  catch  your  ear  and  thus  inveigle  you  into  my  confidence. 
It  was,  I  suspect,  simply  the  inspiration  of  affectionate  sympathy  for  a 
dear  girl,  whose  young  heart  was  waking  up  to  the  sense  of  being  fath- 
erless. But  however  it  may  have  been  prompted,  the  adoption  has  been 
ratified  by  your  acceptance  of  it:  and  from  this  time  henceforth  you 
are  to  be  evermore  my  daughter.  Shall  I  tell  you,  dearest  Anna,  how 
one  sentence  in  your  letter  thrilled  through  every  fiber  of  my  heart, 
and  made  even  the  marrow  of  my  bones  to  quiver?  It  was  your  tender 
allusion  to  my  dead  Fanny,  coupled  with  a  request  to  be  allowed  to 
take  her  place  in  my  love.  Can  I  then  so  easily  replace  my  lost  one? 
Now  that  she  has  gone  up,  beyond  my  reach,  above  the  stars,  can  I 
turn  those  warm  affections  upon  another?  It  was  a  very  serious  ques- 
tion, in  answering  which  the  least  hypocrisy  on  my  part  would  be  infi- 
delity to  you  and  treason  against  her,  I  have  weighed  it  well;  and 
I  now  tell  you,  my  child,  to  come  into  my  heart  and  hold  a  daughter's 
place.  May  the  God  of  heaven  bless  you,  and  make  the  thought  a  sol- 
ace to  you,  as  it  is  a  comfort  to  me! 

"The  metaphysics  of  this,  I  suppose,  you  do  not  understand:  I  am 
not  sure  that  I  comprehend  it  fully  myself.  I  submit,  however,  the  fol- 
lowing exposition,  for  what  it  is  worth.  All  our  earthly  relations  are 
sublimed  through  death.  Our  loved  ones,  when  they  have  passed  into 
heaven,  sustain  a  twofold  existence  to  us.  In  the  kingdom  of  God 
they  appear  to  us  only  as  'the  angels  of  God,*  redeemed  and  glorified 


His  Course  During  the  War.  283 

spirits  bending  with  their  crowns  before  the  throne,  and  far  removed 
out  of  the  circle  of  the  relations  which  they  filled  on  earth.  But  they 
sustain  another  aspect  to  us,  as  memory  recalls  them  in  their  earthly 
forms  and  in  their  human  sympathies.  This  remembrance,  however, 
is  purified  through  death.  The  old  adage,  'nil  de  ntortuis  nisi  bonumf 
embodies  this  idea.  Memory  presents  only  the  image  reflected  from 
the  mirror  which  affection  holds  up.  All  that  was  cheap  and  common 
in  their  character  and  life  is  sifted  through  and  drops  out  of  sight;  or, 
to  pursue  the  figure  of  the  image,  the  glass  which  reflects  it  has  the 
peculiar  property  of  absorbing  those  rays  which  would  discolor,  and  re- 
turns only  such  as  beautify  and  adorn.  Our  remembrance  is  thus  a 
purged  and  sanctified  remembrance — ^the  dead  reappear  to  our  thought 
in  their  earthly  dress,  but  that  dress  transformed  into  a  robe  of  light, 
and  their  whole  persons  gloriously  transfigured  before  our  eyes.  This 
beautiful  image  takes  up  its  abode  in  our  hearts,  a  most  sacred  and 
awful  'Presence,'  I  have  said  to  your  mother ;  and  the  affections,  which 
cluster  around  it,  are  purer,  holier  affections  than  the  living  ever  enjoy. 
It  is  love  which  has  undergone  a  consecration — mingling  with  rever- 
ence, it  prostrates  itself  with  a  sublime  and  almost  devotional  delight 
before  the  Memory  that  is  now  revealed  as  the  sacred  shadow,  the  um- 
bra, of  the  one  that  was.  You  see  then,  my  child,  in  what  sense  you 
can  take  h^r  place  in  my  heart.  She,  the  Memory — the  sweet  and 
radiant  Tiesence' — must  evermore  be  there,  to  be  cherished  with  a 
love  spiritual  and  unearthly — ^and  my  chastened  heart  must  ever  em- 
brace the  thought  of  her  with  a  strange  complex  emotion  of  mingled 
reverence  and  affection.  But  side  by  side  with  this  spiritualized  love, 
which  we  give  only  to  the  blessed  dead,  there  is  room  for  other  loves 
which  are  more  simply  human — and  this  is  the  portion  for  the  living. 
Yes,  Anna,  with  this  love  I  cherish  you:  and  if  you  will  be  satisfied 
with  it,  I  say  again,  come  into  my  heart,  and  be  my  daughter  until  death. 
I  will  put  a  father's  blessing  upon  your  head